Jay Shoemaker's Pet Peeve Revealed!

Jay Shoemaker
by Jay Shoemaker

Why do manufacturers of high end cars think I’m an idiot? Their automobiles tell me when their tires need air, when the coolant is low and when it’s time for an oil change. They [still] remind me to buckle-up, close my door and take my key. They warn me of approaching objects (front and rear). Yes, I know: this dumbing-down suits the majority of wealthy car buyers, who’d rather read a treatise on Keynesian economics than check their oil. Still, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Sun visor stickers are my personal line in the sand.

I just spent $270 replacing my Mercedes’ sun shields with virgin visors– just to rid myself of those bothersome airbag warning labels. I used to peel them off myself, but the stickers have become tackier and tackier (in every sense); my patient peeling and wiping is no longer effective. In my Audi and BMW, I’m not as lucky: the warning labels are embossed into the visor, both OEM and aftermarket.

For all I know, it’s illegal to remove airbag warning stickers. I’m not concerned. For years, I have been removing stickers from my pillow which read, “Warning, these stickers are not to be removed under penalty of law!” I’ve never been arrested for this desecration of my own personal property. As far as I know, there is no warrant out for my arrest. The day the cops check for missing airbag stickers is the day I buy a big bore shotgun and join Oregon’s survivalists.

The airbag stickers warn you that short people and small children can be injured by airbags. No, really? More importantly, what’s it got to do with me? First, I’m not short and I am childless. Second, I don’t let kids ride in the front seat of my cars. (If I had kids, I’d consider it my responsibility to discover the safest way to carry them.) Third, short people have free will; they can weigh-up the dangers of front seat airbags and decide whether or not to drive a car, sit in the passenger seat or sacrifice their pride and jump in the back.

Why can’t I just sign a release when I purchase my vehicle stating that I understand that airbags are dangerous? After I purchase a vehicle in California, I have to sign statements saying I understand that there is no cooling off period and that the dealer can check my credit and invade my privacy and charge me $2.00 to inspect my tires. I never saw a sticker that warned me about this.

I want to know which lawsuit made these stickers a requirement in every vehicle sold in the U.S. Who determined that airbags were the foremost danger facing automobile drivers (literally)? Can a brightly-colored written warning label immutably attached to the most obvious (and therefore most annoying) location in our cars solve the problem? Are the people that need these labels even reading them? Can they even read?

Manufacturers should be concerned about more perilous threats to our safety. What about yakking on the cell or wiping snot off the kid in the [airbagless] backseat? How about drinking and driving? Fastening my seat belt? Speeding, not checking my mirrors or aggressive lane changing? Eating? Smoking (imagine how long that one would be)? Don’t these behaviors cause more accidental deaths than “killer airbags”? Perhaps there should be a warning label telling me to never attempt to drive in the city of Boston. No, instead I’m warned about a passive safety device that I’ll probably (hopefully?) never use.

Other than killing all the lawyers, there is an answer to this litigious lunacy: a test to determine whether or not you need to be protected from your own stupidity. (Once upon a time, a high school diploma or a driving test would’ve done the trick.) If you prove you possess a modicum of intelligence and simple common sense, you could carry a card that exempted you from these Nanny State warnings.

Your car’s owner’s manual would be half the size. You could just know that objects in the side mirror aren’t as close as they appear. And there'd be other benefits. When you bought a coffee from McDonalds, you could drink a cup of hot coffee that didn’t warn you not to burn yourself. You could fall asleep on the airplane in front of the flight attendants while they demonstrate to the knuckle-draggers how to buckle a seatbelt. Instead of a warning on cigarette packs, it would simply say, ‘enjoy.’

And the next time I visit a dealer, I could present my card and they would say, “Ah, Mr. Shoemaker, you want to look at these cars over here.” And there would sit my dream car: an automobile without idiot lights or warning labels.

Jay Shoemaker
Jay Shoemaker

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  • The Comedian The Comedian on Sep 15, 2006

    What's the deal with Solnews.com? Are they just stealing Jay's writing, or do they have a deal with TTAC to use its content? http://car.solnew.com/2006/09/06/jay-shoemaker%E2%80%99s-pet-peeve-revealed/

  • HenriDeschamps HenriDeschamps on Feb 05, 2007

    Boy Jay, you sure hit a nerve. It is probably because deep down your article highlights in its pathethic glory the fundemental paradox of American Life: On one hand the desire to eliminate risk and be protected from every ill, on the other the desire for personal freedom, both meeting a very sick judicial framework, all that in direct contradiction with traditional american values of individual responsability and self-reliance. Unfortunately the judicial system and courts have decided to coddle the masses: "Us Downtrodden"; by giving everyone a shot at the judicial lottery - disguised as an Operetta where the protaganists: insurance companies and attorneys, quickly become the "heroes", and true beneficiaries, to the detriment of said downtrodden. When something goes wrong it is seen by the downtrodden as an opportunity to get rich; much surer than any Powerball. Nothing short of a cultural revolution which ends up in the supreme court and which pulls things back towards a more "individual responsabilty" direction will remove our stickers. Stickers, and more seditiously, the "dangerous instrumentality law" are a case in point. As an owner of a vehicle you are the one at fault, versus the user of said vehicle. Elsewhere in the world the user of something is resposnable for knowing how to use it, and if he blows it, he pays directly, and not in money, by the sanctions of society, usually jail if the misdeed is big enough. That is where the proverbial buck stops in every respect: a) no money exchanges hands b) the one who did the deed pays the bill with his life freedom. Because when all is said and done, what he has removed from others is their life freedom. We have traded an eye for an eye for an eye for a buck. I guess everything is for sale. Taken to it's logical conclusion of passing the buck, the dangerous instrumentality law should mean in theory that you can sue the mine and miner who mined the ore to make the metal which did not protect you, and travel back in history to seizing the assets of the guy and his heirs who invented the wheel. If we cannot reform the system, then when in Rome... I think a good use of our efforts might be to sue the sticker manufacturers for distraction. Very Monk, but it will probably stick. Surely a class action lawsuit as ridiculous as that could make it to the supreme court because it sure does bring front and center a cultural paradox worthy of our attention. A bit risky though because instead of getting it, it could lead to the courts removing stickers but hard wiring rev limitors in our brains. Elsewhere in the world, surprisingly enough, you are individually responsable for your failures, and are fined and/or go to jail for a very long time, versus becoming a cash cow. Then the society attends to the best of its abilities to other non-essential items like universal education and universal healthcare. Unfortunately if stickers exist we need only look at ourselves in the rear-view mirror to see why, we put them there. If we want them out we can only cover them with our own stickers, personal rebellion at its finest, or create a tidal wave back towards self-reliance and individual responsability. Careful though because the way things stand today, if you covered your stickers, and someone uses your car, you have undertaken on your measly shoulders the liability they so eloquently symbolize. Yep, it's pretty sick, the question is what can be done to make it better. Those small things like the stickers are nothing less that the tip of a very big iceberg. It seems if all the car folks and attorneys of like mind got together and found the right class action suit by whose very nature those small things are properly challenged it could be fun. Until then, Woe is us downtrodden.

  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.
  • CanadaCraig Toyota saw this coming. So good for them for being courageous enough to say, "Wait a minute. Let's not rush into anything."
  • Rna65689660 As the previous owner of a Triumph, and current owner of a MINI, I say, LOL!