Jon Dawson: New trucks now equipped with tanning beds

Jon Dawson: New trucks now equipped with tanning beds

When did "simple" become a bad word?

More and more, I hear people longing for "a simpler time.” Does this mean humans are no longer evolving fast enough to keep up with modern television remotes — or is there something more to it?

Just before cranking up the ol' laptop, I saw a commercial for a new truck featuring something called a "multi-purpose" tailgate. I glimpsed at the screen and saw a tailgate transform into more positions than Optimus Prime at an advanced yoga class.

If you thinking I'm making it up, take a look at this clip for proof:

I had to watch that clip with the mute button on because I was afraid if I heard the guy explain why the world needed a tailgate that flopped open like a jewelry box, I'd have to gather up my family in the dead of night and move to a secluded cabin in the mountains. 

Admittedly, I haven't qualified for a kids ticket at the cinema in many a moon, but I'm no Luddite. Even though one of our Tax Deductions is a teenager, I'm still the one the family comes to when Netflix is on the fritz, a computer doesn't work or if a mushroom cloud forms over the toaster. When it comes to things that actually matter, I've managed to keep up with technology. 

After suffering a Category 4 nervous breakdown waiting for Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks to figure how to sync his iPhone to the Bluetooth function of a rental car, I made a decision to ignore any technology that was utterly unnecessary.

When you factor in we were supposed to leave at 8 a.m. (he showed up at 8:20 a.m.) and we then sat in the driveway upwards of 7 minutes while he called the NASA help desk, that secluded cabin up in the mountains started looking pretty good.

We have enough invisible Wi-Fi waves bounding off our heads as it is. Just plug the phone into the car stereo, dial up some Third Of Never and hit the road.

To his credit, Hanks usually does most of the driving on long road trips, partly out of benevolence, partly out of the fact that if the car isn't going at least 20 miles over the speed limit he can't stand it. This is a guy who can reach 55 mph between the order station and drive-thru window at McDonald's.

As I've stated in this space many times before, Hanks drives faster than anyone I know and is always running 15 minutes late. Eventually, he'll relent and let someone else drive, which sets the scene for my standoff with technology.

When I sat behind the wheel of that rental car, you might as well have sat a monkey in front of the controls for the space shuttle. At one point while backing out of a parking space, a television screen appeared on the dashboard. It was an odd show, as it seemed to be footage of someone backing out of a parking space or a "T.J. Hooker" rerun. 

I knew the cable networks were desperate for programming but had they now stooped to closed-circuit feeds of parking lot security cameras? As it turns out, the really dull show on the rental car TV was actually a live broadcast of our vehicle moving in reverse. Being a tribal elder, I still look over my shoulder while driving in reverse so I missed most of the show. I was told it had a decent plot, and at one point a commercial for chewing gum appeared in the middle. 

A few miles down the road it started raining, so I turned a knob that looked like it might control the windshield wipers. Much to my chagrin, the knob I turned had nothing to do with windshield wipers and everything to do with changing the language of the car's display panels from English to what we later determined was Kaixana, which is often referred to as the rarest language on earth.

According to Google "Kaixana is spoken in a very small area of South America, and whilst there were once 200 speakers of it, there is now only one." 

I'm all for learning about other cultures, but trying to do so through the instrument panel of a Chevrolet Equinox while driving through a Noah's Arc-style deluge on the New Jersey Turnpike is neither the time nor the place.

While this multi-purpose tailgate has brought many volatile emotions to the surface, it's also conjured many memories. When I was a kid, my granddaddy used the tailgate of his truck to slice ham he'd cured in his smokehouse. With only a knife and a situationally-patient disposition, he could slice that glorious piece of meat with the precision of a laser.

My generation is a bit watered-down from his, as my most skilled knife work involves making the amount of peanut butter and jelly proportionate to each other on a sandwich.

Another use for the tailgates of yore was as a ladder extension. If you needed to fix something that was 18-feet and all you had was a 6-foot ladder, you'd just back the truck up, drop the tailgate and place the ladder on it. I'm sure that the previous sentence has triggered an OSHA official and a multi-year investigation is afoot, so excuse me while I pack a bag. 

While I'm on the lam out west waiting for things to cool down, I hope everyone reading this takes the time to examine their relationship with technology. Do we really need an app to tell us all how many steps we should take in a day, or was the app developed by Dr. Scholl's marketing team to increase sales?

Is it necessary to monitor the Twitter feed of a celebrity with great bone structure but less insight than a rock with commitment issues?

Is it worth developing arthritic thumbs just to scroll through and find out which type of mayonnaise Stephen Colbert prefers on his barbecue?

The nays have it.

I'm not sure what the future holds for truck technology. I hear rumors of cappuccino dispensers and tanning beds being developed by Ford and General Motors.

Personally, I'm holding out for a car that runs on asininity.

Jon Dawson's humor columns are published weekly by Neuse News. Contact Jon at and


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