It was a time! We had driven my old SUV for 12 years and for 215,000 miles. We’ve been together for so long, and traveled together so far, I couldn’t bear to let her go…so I didn’t! She has been faithful. Never one-single time has she stranded me on the side of some dark-desert highway, with or without cool wind in my hair! Since the dealer didn’t want to pay me much of anything to take her off my hands, I decided to keep her, but I did buy a new one. I have used my old one like a truck to haul lumber, instruments, and who knows what else, so I’ll still do that, and maybe I can keep my new one nice and clean.

I must admit, however, that I am slightly intimidated by the new one. It is what they call a smart vehicle. I now have a smart phone, a smart television, a smart laptop, but the same ol’ dummy trying to operate them! I’m still trying to learn what all it will do, and what all I don’t have to do anymore.

Not only do I not have to turn on my headlights, it will even dim them when meeting another car, and brighten them once it passes. The first night I drove it, I thought something was wrong! My mom had an old ’68 Mercury that did that, but hers had a shortage. While driving across rural Lookout Mountain late one night, her headlights keep going out. That greatly increased my prayer time that night!

Perhaps the biggest surprise my new SUV gave me, happened the first time I stopped at a traffic light. It stopped too! No, I don’t mean it stopped rolling, it stopped running. The engine shuts down when you stop. My sales person had failed to tell me about that feature. I thought, “Here I am with a new vehicle and already I’m about to be walking.” I had several old jalopies in my younger days that did that, but they wouldn’t start back up. Many of them were stick-shifts, so since I grew up in the mountains of Northeast Alabama, I could just let them roll downhill and pop the clutch. We don’t have mountains in Central Alabama, and my new SUV doesn’t have a clutch, so that wasn’t a possibility. We do have a town named Valley, but I’ve yet to find the mountain. No problem though, because as soon as I took my foot off the brake, it fired right back up, all on its own!

I was a little disappointed that my new ride doesn’t have a CD player. I’ve gone from 8-tracks, to cassettes, to CDs, to nothing but a radio! Actually, it has a built-in computer right on the dash. I can plug a flash drive into the port and play all kinds of things, or dial up Sirius XM, or good old-fashion AM/FM. I can pull up GPS on it, or talk on my cellphone without using my cellphone!

It almost drives itself, because when I have the “lane correction” on, if get too close to the line it will steer me back over. It gets upset though when I take my hands off the wheel. It will even apply the brakes when I try to tailgate you!

My new smart SUV, made by Ford, is quite amazing, but it still isn’t as amazing as we old human beings, made by God. He programmed us to do all sorts of intelligent things, even if we don’t, long before there was artificial intelligence!

Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday edition. Visit for more information.

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