I wonder if my car stereo is a fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction.

It has no mouth and it feels that it must scream. Is it in existential pain? Or does it simply hate me as Frankenstein’s monster hated it’s creator? Is this why it screams in hateful denial every time it is awoken? All I did was hit the power button because I wanted to listen to some 98.7. It sounds likes there’s a tiny man screaming. A blood-curdling scream of such horror that it reaches across a vastness of space to ring in your ears, a high pitched screech of nightmares and ruin. That’s not fair, I guess it could just as easily be a woman. Or a cybernetic bat. I’ve taken to the habit of anthropomorphizing things.

I blame Pixar.

When I turn on the radio, sometimes it mocks me. Oh for sure, the display turns on, it does a good job of pretending. Turning the dial turns up the corresponding levels on the display, but no sound emerges. Those are good days. Even worse is when the display turns on but blankly stares at me. Feigning ignorance.

I miss the radio. There’s this thing that psychologists call “decision fatigue”. It’s the idea that you only have a certain amount of mental energy in a day and every decision that you make drains that budget. So, if you cut out the unnecessary ones, you too can have a successful startup, no college debt and an Instagram full of tastefully inspirational quotes. After all, Steve Jobs wore the same black turtleneck and dad jeans everyday. That definitely was the key to his success. Take my sarcasm with a grain of salt. I can’t even spell success without spellcheck. Still, there is something to be said about having less things to worry about, and decision fatigue is a thing. It’s not enough of a thing to get me to voluntarily wear a uniform every day. But, when it comes to music, I do find myself sometimes missing the easy familiarity of turning on the radio and just letting it play.

Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m in the mood for, musically. Sometimes I don’t want to make that decision. Sometimes, I just want to hear music, without the pressure of having to decide what kind of day I’m going to have, and what soundtrack would be the most appropriate. I wouldn’t even mind the baffling commercials for used car dealerships and the sexually aggressive ads for vape shops.

I don’t know if I miss my radio simply because I can’t have it. The stereo has already been replaced. I can only assume that my car ran over a mirror at some point. It’s probably a loose wire. With the cold weather coming up, I have an opportunity to fix it. You see, you have to blast warm air at the windshield and floorboard with the dial in the 2 o’clock position and hope that the stereo is in a benevolent mood.

Until then. My phone sits on that little ledge in front of the cupholders, the one usually reserved for dessicated apple cores. It stays plugged into the car charger and valiantly tries it’s best. I know your speakers weren’t meant for that. But what am I going to do, be alone with my thoughts? Heavens no. Just go back to playing Pandora, data be damned.

By Jessica Farmer