I once got a call at 2:15am. A friend needed a ride home from Charlotte, over two hours away. I did not own a car, which was a high but not insurmountable hurdle (my hallmates were loose with their keys.) I was half-asleep, meaning the next few hours would be a high-stakes game of keeping my eyes open.
After stocking up on Cherry Coke and a variety of Snapple Iced-T flavors, I hit the road. The other half of my anti-sleep effort was to play one album on repeat, trying to learn all the lyrics. If I messed up, I started over. One of the few CDs at my disposal was The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's 1990 greatest hits album. It did the job. We did not crash. And we arrived back in Durham around sunrise.
Now thanks to the Denso Corporation, there's a more humane system, as Tim Moran reported in Sunday's New York Times.
"The car is warm and the engine hums. Your eyelids slowly close. And then, there's a sudden puff of air on the back of your neck. The steering wheel vibrates in your hands and a buzzer sounds. Your car is waking you. The car has been watching your face and, through the steering wheel, feeling your pulse. It knew you were about to fall asleep."
So instead of listening to sixty miles of "Express Yourself," you'll soon be able to put your car on vibrate. Though my experience taught me a valuable lesson: don't answer your phone at 2:15am.