Parked in Boston

With sales tax, registration, and license-plate fees, the new car I just bought cost $2,000 less than my first house.

But this is not about housing. It's about the American love affair with cars - no matter how homely the driving conditions.

Let the record show two things: (1) I'm not that old; (2) I bought a sports car because I never owned one before and I want to go fast.

It's not one of those high-priced German machines that help Deutschland auto workers start with six weeks paid vacation.

It has just the right power under the hood - to keep the heater in winter and the air conditioner in summer running smoothly while stalled in Boston traffic. The seven-speaker stereo system and power sunroof are mandatory options for gridlock.

Virtual reality on the Web may be new to many folks, but rush-hour traffic in Boston tangles drivers in a real web, not a virtual one.

The Big Dig that you've read about - where 12 billion federal tax dollars (more yours than ours) go to tunnel 3-1/2 miles of new road in the cradle of the American Revolution - is really the Big Park: all bumpers and backup lights.

So the idea of a "personalized virtual traffic reporter" that Eric Evarts writes about (page 12), welcome as it may be on any of 100 Los Angeles freeways, strikes this Boston driver as a used-car salesman selling time shares to Ponce de Len's Fountain of Youth now relocated to Shangri-La.

Maybe a high-tech gadget on my dashboard linked to GPS navigation systems will read the number of cellphone calls from other cars so I'll know where traffic is flowing. But in car-dense Boston, all that gear will just be coming to a car I'm parked in.

*Comments or questions?

E-mail ideas@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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