What does this switch do?


The saga of our car woes has drawn to a close, with l’Atomo being somewhat ignominiously hauled away on the back of a breaker’s lorry. A new adventure begins, as our newly-adopted car insinuates itself into our lives. It still has to exhibit some personality traits before it receives a proper name, though. Right now, it’s just called “Car”.

I have never been able to afford a brand new car. I have been custodian of a brand new car, but that was leased by someone else and I had the use of it, so it’s not quite the same. I very nearly got a new car about a decade ago, but sadly or luckily, depending on your point of view, the deal fell through about the time the job I was in fell through.

So, while I have had the fun of specifying a new car, I’ve never had the fun of owning one. The “new” car we now own is six years old, and I suppose we paid about a quarter of its original purchase price to acquire it. It is the newest used car we’ve ever owned! It still has most of its original paperwork, including the all-important user manual.

Many knobs and dials in cars are self-explanatory. They form a standard part of our world, so you know what the symbol, and hence the function of the switch, means right away. I’m old enough and experienced enough to jump into the drivers’ seat and drive off without having to read the instructions first. There are some controls, though, which are new because it’s a new car—to me, at least.

Now, reading through the manual, you discover all kinds of fun toys. Then you discover your car doesn’t have some of those toys, because they are options decided before purchase. For example, we have air conditioning but not climate control. We have front and rear fog lights, but we don’t have the daylight running light option. We have an instrument panel display, but not the very clever one. We have a radio, but not the steering wheel controls. The radio, also, doesn’t connect with my phone by Bluetooth.

All these things I thought we might have, because the manual said so. I was aware the manual also appended an asterisk beside many features, which I worked out marked them as options. We have some options, but not others. On balance, I think the options we do have are the sensible ones, though I would appreciate the reversing sensors! Part of the fun of acquiring a “pre-enjoyed” vehicle is the journey of discovery as you work out what the original purchaser ticked on the specification list!

Now, all we need is to find “Car” a sensible name…