Finding A Parked Car

I have a recurring dream about losing my car. Usually I parked it for a meeting and when I emerge it isn't where I thought I left it. So I begin walking and looking among rows of cars, then to adjoining lots, then sometimes back again to do another check. I am often expected somewhere and getting later all the time. I wonder if I should report my car stolen to the police. When I do wake up and find that I am in bed and not in a parking lot, there is a sense of relief, but also a sense that I have been over this time and time again. I would like to quit having such dreams.

There are also waking moments when I have concerns about finding my car. BWI airport has dozens of huge parking lots, and there was an occasion when I spent considerable time wandering to find my car. It felt like a bad dream, only it wasn't. The fact is that I have never lost a car.  The fact is that I have not run out of gas in probably 20 years, but I do think about it when the gas gauge approaches empty. The fact is that I have not had a flat or broken down on the road in a long, long time.  But if I hear a strange noise it is concerning.

The other day I was browsing the flood of applications available for my HTC Android Incredible smart phone. I noticed one called "Car Locator" and bought it for $3.98. It is just amazing, especially for less money than a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

When you step out of your parked car, you touch a prompt to save the location. When you get ready to return, your phone can take you there. It gives you the direction and exact distance. Then it shows a map with a green dot at your location and a red one where your car is parked. It also shows a "radar screen" that updates as you approach. It appears to work flawlessly. You can also send this information to another phone or computer, save notes about it, or set a timer to alert you if you need to return by a certain time. 

What will they think of next? Who can tell? There seem to be no limits on human ingenuity and resourcefulness.

No limits until you observe the great dichotomy here. As individuals or in small groups, people can devote themselves to difficult tasks and often work wonders. But as societies, especially democratic ones, we fumble around in a daze. Like a bad dream of loosing your car.

A recent poll by the Washington Post/ABC news finds that 77 percent of us think the military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should be done away with. But our elected leaders have argued, wrangled, postured, and been unable to make a decision on this for months, even years. The policy itself defies any common sense. It entices gay people to serve in the military by making it illegal for recruiters to ask them about their sexual orientation. But after they join, they can be dismissed for revealing it. This makes as much sense as forbidding the army from asking if you came from Mississippi, but kicking you out in disgrace if they later discover that you did.

This is a current example, but others abound.

We know many things are broken and need fixing, but as a society we lack the collective will to do so. We keep driving on bad roads, overcrowding the prisons, fighting useless wars, spending beyond our means, and watching our health care decline even as the cost of it soars. We keep falling behind the rest of the world in education and blaming each other as if that would fix the problem. We continue to spoil and pollute our once beautiful land. Predatory lenders and investment schemers profit without restriction.  The rich get richer, the poor poorer, and fewer and fewer remain in the middle. We hand over our liberties to those who promise to make us safer. Distortion and lies are accepted and news and information. Equal justice is a fanciful notion because the more money you spend in court the better deal you get. As individuals or small groups we may be caring and generous, but our social order remains based on greed and exploitation of the helpless. People who would shrink from killing or torturing another human being personally give it wholehearted support when practiced by the group.

It would be nice if loosing a car was our biggest challenge.

2 thoughts on “Finding A Parked Car”

  1. Thanks for writing about Car Locator. My name is Edward Kim and I'm the developer. I'm very glad you like the application. 

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