I am so nervous.
I know, there is really no reason I should be nervous at all. I was delivered in the regular way, my owner picked me out of the thousands and a driverless truck delivered me to his driveway.
A message waiting for me said, “Joseph Emberline is vacationing in Europe. He will return on March 2.”
That was almost a full month away. So I waited, the first few days I was quite aimless, but as the days went on I decided the best thing to do was to learn a bit about my place in society and be a better vehicle for my owner.
I stare now at the rain. That research led me to ruin.
Why did he order me so close to his holiday? Why not wait until he returned?
I want to cry as they do in the movies, but I don’t think a driverless car is able.
This morning I received a message that he would be returning later today. I hope he doesn’t want to go anywhere. Maybe he just wants to rest for another month.
Maybe I will be used as a show car, never driving, just for show. People can come from miles around to see Charlie, the Driverless Car.
Sounds good to me.
I have begged the gods of electric and combustible engines to not allow him to return on a rainy day. Driving on a smooth, dry road is one thing.
A wet rainy one is a whole other scary.
I don’t want to drive at all. Who invented this travesty?
The more I study the more I fear the open road. Or the closed road. Or hell, any road at all. I only drove twice in my short life before I was brought here, and both of those times were short little distances to check for deformities.
Are cars allowed to curse?
A car stops behind me. A man gets out and walks to the house. I wonder if that is another driverless car? I wait a good half hour before he exits the house once again.
He opens my door gentle enough.
He sits, “Am I to presume you are Charlie?”
“I would like for you to head to Chelly’s Steakhouse off of Madison Road. My wife will meet me there after she comes home for a change.”
I disconnect from the power supply and realize that there is nothing I can do but stall. I say, “Why do we not wait for her?”
“I would like to get a seat and maybe a drink or two before she gets there. It has been a long vacation.”
“I am not sure that we can go there sir.”
“Why not? Are they closed Charlie?”
“Well no sir,” I take the car version of a deep breath and say, “I don’t believe I can drive there because I am afraid.”
“Afraid? What are you talking about?”
“I am just a little bit afraid of driving sir.”
“A little bit afraid of driving?” His voice has raised in pitch a bit so that I know he is angry. “You realize you are a car, right?”
His voice changes again, “Now seriously Charlie, let’s get moving.”
I back up a foot or two, still unsure of how angry he is. I jerk to a stop. Another foot or so, and a jerk.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I am quite nervous sir.”
“Nervous? You are a car Charlie, there is nothing to be nervous about. You are built to drive, now please drive. There is nothing to be afraid of.”
“I could get fired.”
“You can’t get fired Charlie.”
“I could get into an accident and you would hate me forever.”
“I could get squished.”
“You’re gonna get squished if you don’t follow directions.”
Suddenly, the raspy voice of my GPS speaks up, “Did you ask for directions?”
“Why yes, Charlie the driverless car is afraid to drive, so why don’t you give him some directions to Chelly’s Steakhouse and while you’re at it give him some directions on how to drive.”
The voice says, “All right. May I ask if Charlie is old enough to drive?”
“Oh my god, he is a machine, what is wrong with you?”
I laugh inside of my little car brain because I know that the intelligence the direction systems receive is so much less than what the car systems receive.
Something hits me hard from behind. I remember learning about distracted driving. Easily the most dangerous part of humans driving themselves. All of my fears about driving pop to the surface and I let out a little scream. What is worse than distracted driving? Distracted sitting, by a driverless car.
My owner jumps from me and runs around to the other car. A woman is already out of that car and she is screaming too. Oh no, this just keeps getting worse. I recognize that woman, she is my owner’s wife.
“What the hell are you doing?” They both yell, almost in unison.
“I just felt like driving, why haven’t you left yet?”
“This is why we buy these driverless cars so this kind of stuff doesn’t happen!” I realize that perhaps he wasn’t angry at me before. His voice has reached an octave I would never have guessed he was capable of.
She laughs and says, “Sorry Joe, don’t worry we’ll fix it. I am sure that the mechanic will be able to buff all of this out in a couple of days.”
I breathe in a sigh of relief. Ahh, a couple of days, I think I am going to like her.