Did you know that some cars have attention alert features? I knew about the parking monitors because my garage in San Francisco was built for just one car and my neighbor and I were able to negotiate in two. But not without some serious complaints from the parking monitor while I'd maneuver an incredibly tight 5-point park that required side mirrors to be folded in and carpet on the cement walls to avoid scrapes.
Evidently, my new car has two alert features that I came to appreciate on my trip across the country. The first was an alarm that would sound if I put on my blinker to change lanes and a car was in my blind spot. It was a nice piece of safety insurance and worked great until Atlanta. They have some of the craziest drivers I've seen that enjoy speeds in excess of 95 and make a game out of lane changes. My little alarm was no match for them.
The second alarm is an attention monitor. It first appeared about 5:20am not long after I left Tucson and, turned onto Highway 10 and pointed my car toward El Paso, Texas. Evidently, this car had been monitoring my driving behavior and noticed a shift by flashing an image of a coffee cup on my dashboard and telling me that it thought I was drowsy. Seriously. Could I tell you what I was doing differently than my Day 1 of driving? No. But I don't deny I could really have used a cup of coffee and at that point appreciated the Big Brother assistance to keep my eyes open and my eyes on the road.
It was a bit of foreshadowing for the day. Not because there would be any danger or I would fall asleep and drive off of the road. But for any of you that have driven across West Texas before will know, there are many times that you WANT to fall asleep to pass the time, or simply drive off of the road for a bit of excitement because of this: nothing really changes when you're on the highway in West Texas. It's just the same thing mile after mile. After mile. After mile. Flat topography and scrub brush. Even when I left Highway 10 and took some state highways, the only thing that changed was the size of my road and lack of semis.
After 14 hours (and about 15+ with stops), when my car car finally came to a stop, I felt a bit like a mental patient that had just been released. I wanted to run around it in circles and start babbling at the sky and waving my arms around wildly. Instead, I settled for a lovely glass of wine that was handed to me by one of my very best friends, Angelique.