Idiot Lights

Don’t you love “idiot lights”? And if you know me, you know that I pay attention to them. (Gulp. Does that make me an idiot?)

I’m one of those people who drives 64 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. I always stop on red even if it is 2 A.M. and no one is around.

Needless to say since one of our car’s “idiot lights” has been telling us for 3 months that the oil needed changed, I’ve been bugging my husband to take the car to get the oil changed. The fact that the “Jiffy Lube” sticker on the windshield ALSO said the oil should have been changed at the end of MARCH, only further compelled me to NAG. His insistence that the manufacturer’s guidelines and the lube center’s guidelines differ, does not instill a lot of confidence in me. After all… the car’s “idiot lights” told me the oil needed changed as much as that sticker on the windshield! You see? My husband is PURE GENIUS when it comes to computers. He can do a number of “handy man” things around the house thanks to having worked at Home Depot while in college. But cars? Nope. I’ll just reiterate that his stating “not needed” – failed to inspire confidence in me!

According to him, the sticker always indicated changing the oil much sooner than needed. Instead, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. How about those “idiot lights” though?

“Everyone knows those things rarely work right. You have to get them reset after getting your oil changed AT the car dealership. I don’t ever go there for oil changes!” he replied.

Evidently (according to hubby) “LOW FUEL” actually means you can drive another 100 miles. “CHECK  ENGINE” may very well be an irregularity that has to be re-set occasionally and is often reported as a problem with the model. “LOW TIRE” means you are parked at an incline and the car “thinks” it has a low tire. Sigh.

If People Had Idiot Lights

Wouldn’t it be grand if PEOPLE had idiot lights? You could meet someone for the first time and know some things without any words exchanged. You’d see a flashing:

Needs Work

Snores Loudly

Back Stabber

Yup… it would make life a little easier. We would know what to expect of a person before ever expending any emotional energy to get to know them! EXCEPT… my husband insists those idiot lights aren’t accurate. So that could mean that the little warnings we get about people we meet may be false.

The reality may be:

Works WELL

SINGS loudly


If Dogs Had Idiot Lights

How about if working dogs in training had idiot lights? It might help trainers determine who would be best matched with particular dogs. It might help puppy raisers find out about the personality of the puppy they are raising to be a working dog. Perhaps a dog in training would have idiot lights such as:

Stays Calm

Very Instinctive

Easily Potty-trained

And Chloe’s may have been:

Ah… but remember? The idiot lights are not accurate. After all, trainers tell me Chloe was an incorrigible “hard-to-train” pup. But she is a hard-working, completely engaged, working adult dog. Thankfully, I can manage the occasional unfeminine “toots”.

Idiot Lights and First Impressions

Just as idiot lights for vehicles seem to be more bother than help, rarely providing accurate feedback, so too may “first impressions” fail us. People who come across as prideful, pompous, and bossy may actually be insecure. Controlling people may get on your nerves, but they often are the ones who can easily make decisions and get things done. I’m not saying this can’t go wrong. We would not see abusive relationships if it never went wrong.

What I am beginning to realize in this game of “life”, is that first impressions are often wrong. A quiet, reserved individual may actually make a warm, loyal friend if you work a little harder to get to know them. A loud and obnoxious know-it-all may actually have some insecurities and may thrive in a relationship that allows them to not have to work so hard at being perfect.

I’m all for boundaries. One of my favorite books is “Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those that Aren’t” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. However, we cannot allow our first impressions to “warn us off” people permanently. I think boundaries are set up AFTER we really get to know someone and identify they are not a “safe” friend or family member. But first impressions? Leave your brick and mortar at the door when you first begin to get to know someone. Sure, you may get some vibes that have you treading carefully as you work with a person or attend small group with a person. But how many of our relationships would we NOT have if people relied solely on first impressions? I think of the first impression others may see in my own life:

“I thought you were so stuck up when I first met you but eventually learned you could not hear in crowds”.

“Because of your BLING and service dog it was obvious you had some disability of some sort. In getting to know you, I often forget you are deaf. You are as normal as anyone else!”

“When you first asked for the main points of the meeting to be emailed to you I thought that you were basically asking for special privileges. Little did I know after receiving the “recap email” sent to the entire department that I missed a lot of important notes from the meeting too. This step helps ALL of us.”

If first impressions are a type of “idiot light”, we should remember that they are often wrong. Extend the benefit of the doubt to people who rub you the wrong way when you first meet them. In time you will discover if you had good intuition and need to erect some safe boundaries to interact with someone. However, you may learn that it was really a smoke screen that hid a wonderful person who simply had trouble letting the real “soul” show.


I was so thrilled when my husband brought the car back this past week and said all the fluid levels were checked, oil changed, filters changed, and tire pressure checked. However, as I Headed to work on Thursday I happened to look down at the dash and lights. I grimaced as I saw the “CHANGE OIL” scroll across the bottom of the display. I tore my gaze back up to the road and mirrors and began to chant, “Idiot lights are inaccurate. Idiot lights are inaccurate…”

Denise Portis

© 2011 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

2 thoughts on “Idiot Lights

  1. Such excellent advice about first impressions! It’s important to listen to our intuition, but not to look someone into a “box” too quickly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s