By Hannah Berman

By Hannah Berman

When my car lease expired three months ago, I opted to get a vehicle that was different from the one I had leased and driven for the past three years. That was mistake number one. I had been driving a Nissan Altima, but this time I went for a Nissan Rogue. It has been two months since I got the Rogue, and I still have no idea what I’m doing. Mistake number two was forgetting how long it had taken me to learn all about the Altima. I should have stayed with what I knew.

Mistake number three was not insisting the man who delivered the car to me should please stick around until I was certain that I understood everything he had taught me about the car. To his credit, the fellow was a gentleman and he said he was willing to stay with me for as long as I needed him, but since I didn’t want to appear stupid, I told him he could go. To this day I have no idea why I cared what a total stranger thought of me. So what if he thought I was a dope? Chances are he wouldn’t have been the first to have that opinion. The bottom line is that I now drive around in a nice, shiny, new car that I know much too little about.

I was told that with this vehicle I can do a remote start. While my vocabulary and command of the English language is fairly strong, it took me time to understand that this meant I could start the engine while I was still inside my house. But I still haven’t figured out how to do that, so I never do! I was also informed that my new car has a rear windshield wiper. I thought that in a heavy downpour this was a great feature to have. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get it to work.

The lights are another thing that confuses me. A friend told me to keep the setting on “auto,” which means that the headlights will automatically go on as needed. Somehow, this isn’t working out too well because I notice that drivers in oncoming cars often flash their lights at me. This must mean one of two things — either my bright beams are on and are blinding the other car’s driver or maybe I have no lights on at all. Neither one is good.

As I write this, it occurs to me that it would be easier to explain what I do know about the car, as that list would be infinitely shorter. Every time I want to avail myself of some terrific feature that this car offers, I think about how foolish I was not to have stayed with what I knew. I could have just as easily leased another Altima, and I should have. And then it hit me that the new version of that car probably has updated features that were not available in the older one, and I would have had trouble with those as well. Clearly, while progress is important and is supposed to be good, it doesn’t always work for me.

Once a month, when my friends and I meet for dinner, the serious and meaningful conversation usually begins with politics. Because we don’t all share the same political view, we dispense with that topic quickly lest it turn argumentative. We segue into talk about religion, a topic that is safe because we are all in agreement. After we finish with the serious chatter we go on to lighter matters. These inevitably involve the latest movies and interesting television programs. It was several months, however, before I was able to join in the talk since I was the sole member of the group who did not have Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Having to remain silent while my friends talk about what programs they watch was bad enough, but what bothered me more was that I was apparently missing some wonderful entertainment. Determined to change that, I prevailed upon two of my offspring to set me up on both. There is an annual fee for these services, but, to my delight, I didn’t have to pay a dime because I was able to join my son on his Netflix account and one of my daughters on her Amazon Prime account. This was great because it meant that I would no longer have to remain silent during our dinners since I would now be able to watch what my friends did and would be able to participate in the conversation.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out exactly as I had hoped. My plan was an abysmal failure because, once again, I found myself in need of a tutorial. I never knew if I was tuning into season one or a follow-up season, and I was never sure what episode I was clicking on. As of this writing, I am in the process of trying to learn what I am doing. It’s similar to the instruction I received about my new vehicle. While I am being taught and shown what to do, I believe I understand. But as soon as my friendly tutor leaves, I often find myself lost in space once again. Fortunately, the help I get is from my friends and family, so I don’t much care if I appear stupid. They all live locally, and I can ask them to come back at any time.

Chances are that joining these entertainment services is not one of my mistakes, because I will be able to navigate these correctly and be able to watch the programs that my friends watch and then be able to join in the entertainment portion of our dinner conversation. Hopefully, I will also learn how to avail myself of all the wonderful features that my new car has, and when I do, I will no longer think of leasing my new Rogue as a mistake. That’s the way I hope it will be, but, for now, that’s the way it is!

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-295-4435.


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