Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

To paraphrase the Dos Equis beer guy: “I don’t often drive my wife’s car. But when I do, I enjoy reverse.”

No, Mary Ann doesn’t object to my operating her car. It’s just difficult for a guy like me, with a wired-together spine and knees that struggle to bend, to climb in and out of her low-slung auto. My frame fits much better up high, in the seat of a pickup truck.

What’s more, I don’t make a habit out of driving her car continually backward after I pop the clutch. Cops tend to frown on this technique, however innovative it might be.

But I really do like the rear-camera feature on her ride. A lot of new cars have a device like this. It’s wonderful for old croaks with stiff necks and backs (and we know who we are) attempting to navigate in a 180-degree plane.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in this situation, too.

No matter how many times you check for approaching pedestrians or vehicles as you creep out of a parking space in reverse, somebody or something catches you off guard. You slam on your brakes, knowing the walker or driver is mouthing “jerk-wad!” in your direction.

Not so with the camera.

There’s no more slowly and painfully craning over one shoulder, then the next. No continually glancing at side- and rear-view mirrors.

Instead, the camera reveals everything in the vicinity of the automobile, moving or stationary. It performs this task instantly, too—exceedingly faster than Sir Creaksalot can take inventory of the ever-changing landscape.

I just wish I could buy one to wear on my head.

Think of the advantages!

No more bumping into other shoppers at the grocery store when you back away from a tight squeeze between grapes and asparagus in the produce department. Oops, sorry!

No more idly pouring a cup of joe at the office coffee pot, thinking there’s nobody within fifty feet, when Mabel from human resources—wearing sneakers on the carpeted floor—shuffles up from behind and barks in her loud nasal twang, “Hey! Did’ja leave any?” Gaaak!

No more tripping over a shovel or rake as you walk backwards across the driveway, dragging a tarp full of leaves and grass clippings for the compost bin. $#%&!-

Of course, there could be one serious drawback.

Instead of simply pushing a button to activate the head camera, it likely would come with a password. By the time I remembered the hateful thing, I would’ve wrecked two grocery buggies, slung coffee halfway to accounting, and snapped both the shovel and rake handles, not to mention tweaking my back.

Maybe some ideas are better left alone.


Sam Venable is an author, entertainer, and columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. He may be reached at .