No YOU Shut Up And Drive
Janis Hirsch illustration

The Mutha Of Invention

As much as we try to be equal in the workplace, at home and in life, men and women tend to like different things when it comes to cars.

By Janis Hirsch

Backup Camera = Good

Carmakers, I’ve left you on your own long enough. Yes, you stopped making those oval windows and the Taurus’s they were shoved on, so thanks for that. Kudos to you for putting a little meat on the Mini Cooper’s bones so it no longer looks like a Hostess Sno Ball snack cake. Back-up cameras? Hooray and huzzah. Oh and three cheers for keys that’ll start my car from my purse. If only they could find my purse first…

But let’s face it, while all are noble, they’re just baby steps. Take my hand, carmakers, because we’re going to cross a really busy street to 21st century innovation, VroomGirls style.

Tachometers and Other Things I Don’t Need

At the top of my list is GET RID OF THOSE RIDICULOUS TACHOMETERS. Does anyone know what they do and why they’re so bloody important? I sure as hell didn’t, so I Googled them. Now I know they can assist me in selecting an appropriate throttle setting… if I knew was a throttle was! I also discovered that tachometers measure the rotation speed of the shaft. Unless it’s Richard Roundtree or even Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft, deal me out. When I got to the part about their importance in tractors, I stopped reading all together.

I mean come on, that’s valuable real estate right there next to the speedometer. Put my GPS map there. Put my music info there and all my phone particulars. Hell, put a lava lamp light show there, I don’t care. Just get rid of that huge, annoying dial.

Let us turn now to those mirrors on the back of the visors. Very handy if you’re checking your teeth for arugula, but if you need to see anything smaller than roughage, how about making them MAGNIFYING MIRRORS? Those chin hairs don’t announce their arrival with a trumpet flourish you know. And I can’t lean in to get a closer look without honking the horn with my ample chest, so don’t even suggest that. Come on, we all have put on make up behind the wheel… safely, while we’re parked legally, Officer. As it is now, when I put on eyeliner in the car I have to keep going back and forth across my lid until I see something look back at me in the mirror. When I get out, I look like a Chilean coal miner.

How About Bi-Focal Side Mirrors?

This would make parking next to a curb so much easier. I’m constantly adjusting these mirrors because, you know, there aren’t enough distractions when I parallel park! So how about the bottom half of the side mirror always aims down? Because I’m either overly cautious which means I end up parking pretty much in the middle of the street or I park so close that I lose my hubcap. Again. This mirror would also come in handy when I’m turning into the grocery store parking lot. Inexplicably I always turn too soon, thereby running into or over the curb, thereby scrapping the heck out of my tire or popping it all together. Come on, sisters. I’m not alone here, am I?

Am I?



Okay, don’t scoff but DRIVER SEAT TOILETS. You push a button and your seat opens slightly exposing a small, efficient little chamber pot. We’ve all seen that $4,000 Japanese toilet that does everything but Kegels for you; I’m not looking for anything that fancy. You do your business, you get a little squirt, a little blow dry and you haven’t lost your spot in the carpool lane. I know you want it – and more than that – I know you need it. I don’t care if your Starbucks is in Dr. Oz’s medical plaza, you’re still getting the key from some schlub in a track suit with a well-read copy of USA Today under his arm. And gas stations? Please. The biggest fight I ever had with my husband was when he saw nothing wrong with tinkling at an Arco Station.

Size Does Matter

HEADRESTS FOR SHORT PEOPLE. I’m hardly Thumbelina but the headrest in every car I’ve ever had hits the top of my skull with bottom of that catcher’s mitt-shape that’s supposed to cradle my head. I end up driving with my chin on my chest. All I need is a big furry hat and I can stand guard for the Queen. Please, please, please, automakers, remember that not all of us are over 5’ 5”!

CUPHOLDERS THAT FIT MORE THAN CUPS. My new hobby is buying reusable water bottles that don’t fit in my car. The subset to this is my buying countless reusable water bottles with the flip-top such that when I take a drink, it either pokes me in the eye or goes up my nose, neither of which I consider pluses. And consider putting a little insulation in those cupholders. I have a friend who once bought a fancy car with a mini-fridge in the backseat. It was hell on her battery, hell on her gas mileage, could only fit those insanely impractical pony-sized bottles and when the car wasn’t running, the fridge was off and everything inside smelled like an autopsy.

What Women Really Want!

I love all the ports and recharging capabilities in the new cars but would it be so hard to throw in a DASHBOARD MINI-RECORDER? There is something about driving in the fast lane of the freeway that makes me remember that I need to pick up more Knudsen’s Fat Free cottage cheese, that my Costco coupons are going to expire tomorrow and that I once again forgot to take the towels out of the dryer. Writing any of this down would necessitate me having a pen and paper in each reach and telling myself “I’ll remember” is like telling myself “No one can see my lady underwear peeking out above the waist band of my jeans.” One push of a button and my problem, and yours, would be solved.

Would it be that hard to dedicate an inch or two of the underside of the steering wheel as an EMERY BOARD? I’m not forsaking my manicures from that great Vietnamese place where all the women are called Kelly, Nancy and Sue, but there are occasion snags that require a little TLC. Who’s with me on this?

I also wouldn’t mind a small, refillable DISPENSER mounted on the dash that I could fill with Purell. Because I don’t care how many wipes I use on my shopping cart, I’m still going to marinate in disinfectant after venturing out in public. Yes, I understand needing to hit the pharmacy when you’re sick but the hardware store? What pneumonia patient can’t wait to get well before buying shelf-liner? And who says, “Yeah, this is probably Dengue Fever but you know what I need? A browse through Loehmann’s!”?

No need to thank me, carmakers. I’m here to help.

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2 Responses to “The Mutha Of Invention”

  1. Michael says:

    Janis, I lol’d. My wife has been talking about the car-toilet invention for years! Looks like the Japanese are working on a solution:

  2. Marjory says:

    I vote for tissue holders like they have embedded in the counters at 3-star hotels. And put it within reach of the driver…maybe instead of the middle console globe box.

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