Things once unthinkable are now impossible to live without

This column published as "Modern Convenience" in July 2019 issue

David Matthews / July 03, 2019
David Matthews
What’s that scraping sound? Oh, that’s just Christopher Fitzgibbon driving his car to work.

The 23-year-old Irish driver recently paid $3,800 to lower his Volkswagen Passat to just 4 in. off the ground in order to make it “look fresh.” 

Instead the car has made him look foolish.

Fitzgibbon was pleased with his vehicle’s ultra-low ground clearance until the nearby village of Galbally, Limerick, installed speed bumps, with apparent wanton disregard for all the “fresh” vehicles on the road. 

He claims these traffic calming measures have caused $2,500 of damage to his vehicle’s tow hitch, bumpers, shock absorbers, and springs, forcing him to reroute his daily commute around Galbally, adding an extra 30 miles of driving a day.  

Fitzgibbon claims that the village’s road engineer responded angrily to his initial in-person complaint about the first two speed bumps, calling him “frivolous” and “vexatious.” He believes it’s no coincidence that the village proceeded to install four more speed bumps afterward.

Feeling that he is being unfairly inconvenienced and discriminated against, Fitzgibbon is demanding that the village pay for the damages to his car, and also explain what exactly the word “vexatious” means.

 

REMOTE UNCONTROLLED

The case of the Mysterious Midwest Mass Malfunction has finally been solved. 

Beginning in late April, dozens of North Olmsted, Ohio, residents noticed that their garage door openers and wireless key fobs weren’t working correctly. 

One key fob might work while another for the same vehicle wouldn’t. A key fob that didn’t work at home would suddenly work in a different city. Garage door openers just stopped working entirely. 

This frustration went on for weeks, and many residents had theories on what was causing it. 

Some thought that activity at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport or a nearby NASA research center was to blame. Town officials suggested that electricity or telecommunications providers were the problem. Others were certain that faulty batteries must be the reason. 

When none of these ideas panned out, local authorities went door-to-door to investigate. 

At last the culprit was found, and it was nothing that anyone suspected.

A local inventor and electronics enthusiast had built a custom monitor that would notify him if anyone entered the upstairs of his home while he was at work in the basement. 

The device was emitting a persistent 315 MHz signal, which was inadvertently jamming the signal for key fobs and garage door openers around town that operate at the same frequency.

The device was dismantled and residents were happy to have the convenience of keyless entry back, though some were sorry to lose the perfect excuse for not cleaning out the garage.

 

HAVE IT YOUR WAY

Burger King has launched a new delivery concept that may change the way you feel about gridlock.

Mexico City has some of the worst traffic in the world, with commuters spending up to 5 hours each day in their vehicles. All that time stuck in gridlock makes for some bored, angry, and hungry drivers. 

What better place to test out Burger King’s new “Traffic Jam Whopper” program, allowing drivers to have food delivered right to their car door. 

Drivers just need to be running the BK app. When the app identifies that a driver will be stuck in traffic for at least 30 minutes within a 1.8-mile range of a Burger King restaurant, it notifies the driver that they have entered a delivery zone. 

If they choose to place an order through the app, it is conveniently delivered directly to their car, in the middle of a traffic jam, via motorcycle.

While the service seems outrageously dangerous, it increased deliveries at participating restaurants by 63% during its month-long pilot in April.  

Burger King now plans to extend the Traffic Jam Whopper program to other cities around the world (including Los Angeles) that have nightmarish traffic as well as drivers who are comfortable using a handheld device behind the wheel, eating while driving, and completing financial transactions with a stranger on a motorcycle in traffic. 

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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