too many words by laura lemay


“Good morning, this is the Honda Starlight Owner Satisfaction Team(tm). Is this Mr. Lipinsky I’m talking to?”

“Yes, it’s me.”

“Very good, sir. And how can I help you today?”

“My car won’t start. I’ve tried a bunch of times.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Lipinsky. Lets start from the beginning. Did you place your hands on the Honda AutoRecognition BioSensors(tm) when you got in the car?”

“Yes, I did that. The car wakes up, it recognizes who I am, it just won&# 8217;t start. I’ve asked it a bunch of times and it doesn’t even answer. The only command it took was to phone home.”

“All right, sir. Let’s go through some simple diagnostics. I can see your car on my system, so your GPS transponders are all working. Let me connect to the car’s computer and see what’s up. You may see some blinking on the dashboard, there’s nothing to be alarmed about.”

“OK. I’ve only had the car a couple of months, you know.”

“I know, sir. I have your records right here.”

“Its been a really great car, though, totally reliable, and really convenient. I really hated always filling up my last car. I really like the mileage meter.”

“HondaMiles(tm) are awfully convenient, aren’t they sir?”

“Oh, yes. And all the adaptive stuff –”

“The Honda NeuroCognitive Adaptive Driving System(tm).”

“Yeah. Its like the car is built just for me, and it drives just for me. Its so sweet.”

“Well, thank you very much on behalf of the Honda Motor Company, sir.”

“Which is why I’m so surprised that it didn’t start today, its been so perfect up to now…”

“We’ll get to the bottom of this, sir, and get you back out onto the road as fast as we can, sir. I’m connected to your car’s computer now, sir, and processing your logs now. All parameters appear to be within normal ranges, although I do notice that you have been exceeding the speed limit for 6.4% of your hours of operation.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m sure you’re aware that speeding is very dangerous, sir.”

“You record my speed?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I didn’t know you did that.”

“It’s in your Honda Owner’s Satisfaction Guidelines(tm), sir. Page 346.”

“Oh. I’ve been meaning to read that. Its kind of a big book, though.”

“There’s a lot of excellent information in the Guidelines, sir. I’ve read it dozens of times myself. ”

“I’m a very safe driver, you know.”

“I’m sure you are, sir. No, there’s nothing here that would prevent your car from starting itself. Why don’t we reboot your car.”

“Reboot the car?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll send a special signal down to the car to reset its internal systems. The car needs to be awake when it happens, so you’ll need to be in it, but you won’t feel it.”

“Oh, OK. It won’t hurt the car, will it?”

“No, sir. The car will go dark momentarily, and you’ll lose contact with the satellites and with me, but then everything will return to normal after a few seconds.”

“Oh, OK. Go ahead then.”

“Do you have a pacemaker, hearing aid or other medically implanted electronic devices?”


“The signal can interfere with electronic devices. If you have a pacemaker or other implant you’ll have to get someone else to be in the car.”

“Um, no, I don’t have any implants or anything like that.”

“All right, Mr Lipinski, we’re all set. The car is awake?”

“Yes, its awake.”

“I am sending the signal now. I’ll open the channel again when the car comes back.”

“OK, talk to you — Ow! OW! shit!”

… “Mr Lipinsky?”

“Goddammit! What was that?”


“The car zapped me!”

“I don’t understand, sir, you’re saying the car ‘zapped’ –”

“Yes! You said it wasn’t going to affect me! You said it was just for the car! Well it wasn’t, it felt like pissing into a wall socket! What the hell was that?”

“That should not have happened, sir. The signal should not have affected you. This is very unusual.”

“You bet it is! This had better have worked cause I’m not doing that again! I’ll go back to a gas car before I do that again! Goddammit!”

“Could you try starting the car now sir?”

“I can’t fucking feel my hands right now. Give me a moment.”

“On behalf of the Honda Motor Company I am extremely sorry. May I ask you a personal question, sir? Are you sweaty?”

“Am I sweaty? Excuse me?”

“Yes, sir. Are you perspiring heavily.”

“I’m in Tucson. Its July. I have no air conditioning because my car. Won’t. Start. Yes. I am perspiring heavily.”

“I’m very sorry, sir. I am afraid you are correct. There is a rare case that if there is contact between the Honda PosteriComfort Climate Sensors(tm) in the seats, such as can happen with excessive perspiration, the signal can result in the tingling sensation you experienced.”

“Tingling. Right. The Honda Motor Company will be hearing from my lawyer.”

“I’m afraid not, sir.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Page 23 of your Honda Owner’s Satisfaction Guidelines(tm). All disputes between yourself and the Honda Motor Company are to be resolved through the Honda Owner Satisfaction Team Representative.”

” … That’s you?”

“That’s me, sir. And I am pleased to tell you that I am authorized to grant you 1500 HondaMiles(tm) as compensation for this incident.”

“I see. 1500 miles, that’s very generous.”

“However, I have just received a message from your insurance company. They have instructed me to inform you that because your speeding record is above the average for your combination of age class and your car type, they will be raising your rates in the next quarter.”

” … I see.”

“Could you try starting the car now, sir?”

“I think I’d like to stay home now.”


“I’m sorry. Car: start. Yes, the car is running now.”

“Excellent! Is there anything else you’d like me to help you with today?”

“No. No, I think that’s enough for today.”

“Thank you for contacting the Honda Starlight Owner Satisfaction Team. And thank you for driving Honda. Have a Nice Day.”