Saturday, July 05, 2008

Total Hands-Free Driving

As of July 1, 2008, all Californians have to use a hands-free headset while driving a car. About two weeks ago, I went out and bought a traditional headset with a cord that plugs into the phone and a microphone about midway down the cord. Steve recommended this over a wireless headset because it would never require charging. The first time I got in the car with it, the wires got wrapped around the seat belt, yanking the ear buds out when I went to strap myself in, I felt entangled in wires, and plugging and clipping all that stuff made me a little nutty every time I got in and out of the car. I quickly decided to spend a little birthday money to get a wireless headset, and that has proved to be an easier solution. With due credit to Steve, I keep the more traditional headset in my car as a backup for the times when I will find myself in need of answering a call in my car, and my wireless is out of juice.

This new law has ushered in a new and perplexing era for the Luddites of our fair state. The high tech and marketing folks have been operating their wireless headsets with ease for years now, but the rest of us are trying to catch up. On Tuesday morning, I hung up on a co-worker, not once but twice, because there is a slight delay which causes the phone to keep ringing after the headset has made the connection, but not yet activated the call. This caused me to hit the call activate button a second time, connecting me and almost immediately disconnecting me from my caller. Apologies were necessary. Others must be having this same problem, because in the grocery store parking lot I saw a man repeatedly trying to connect a call on his cell phone, finally surrendering the phone, along with an extravagant eye-roll, to his more-competent wife.

A friend told me about her mother (an older lady) attempting to work out the kinks on her wireless headset. Unaware that the headset could be powered down when she wanted to use her phone's microphone to talk, her mother called Meredith five or six times in rapid succession, moving a little farther away each time until she was out of range of her headset. Of course the headset was in a different room, so she couldn't hear her daughter yelling at her to knock off all the damn phone calls.

Steve and I got to wondering, early on in an hour-long drive to his parent's house, what other devices would be necessary to ensure that we never drive distracted. We came up with a few:

Hands-free sandwich/hamburger/burrito eating device
Remote activated fighting sibling smacker
Hands-free baby bottle deliverer and screaming baby soother
No-hands needed lipstick and eyeliner applicator
Automatic newspaper and map read aloud device (although to be fair these already exist in the form of your car radio, and GPS unit, but people still try to read newspapers, books, and maps while driving)

All of this talk of sandwiches and burritos is making me hungry. Any other ideas on hands-free devices for the car?

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