by Anura Guruge
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It is funny isn’t it how we take certain things for granted and give no thought to how they came to be. Though I am known to ponder many aspects of life until yesterday I had never given any thought to when I STARTED using built in cup holders.
Today I rarely go anywhere without coffee or tea in an insulated mug — and the normal one I use, which I got from the camping section in a Walmart, is HUGE. But until yesterday I never had given thought to all the thousands of miles I had driven, prior to the mid-1990s, in cars that did not have built-in cup holders.
It all came to a head yesterday afternoon when I took the new 1989 Jag XJS to fill her up (given that with her notoriously thirsty petrol consumption habits I wasn’t sure how far we could really go and gas gauges on all British cars are known to be extremely fickle). Since it was afternoon, it was time for my cups of tea — caffeinated and decaf. So I made myself one and took the precaution of putting it in a small insulated mug, as opposed to my giant mug, because I knew that IF the XJS had cup holders they would be for normal size cups — as is, ironically, the case in the 2002 XJ8. But I had feeling that the XJS might not have cup holders. So I sent Devanee, who was coming with me (since she hates not going in ‘her’ cars), to check. She confirmed my worst fears. No cup holders. No big deal. She already knew the drill. No cup holders — she becomes my automated cup holder. She is getting good at it. She holds it, more or less at the right height, without spilling it and puts it into my hand, with the right orientation, when I reach out. She does have her uses, which is good.
Got me thinking. The thousands and thousands of miles I MUST have driven in cars with no cup holders and NEVER gave it a thought. Scary. 1980 to 1983 I was driving 500 to 2,000 miles a week. As customer support manager for ITT Data Systems UK that was my job. Visiting customers all around the country. I had a company car and unlimited petrol (and for that matter an unlimited expense account). I drove. In the UK it did not make sense to fly (especially if you drove like WE (i.e., the professional company car drivers did)). I must have been in the car for 40 hours a week — EASY. But I am sure, though they were all mid- to top-tier company cars of that era (e.g., 2L Ford Cortinas, Rovers etc.) that they did not have cup holders. It also meant that I did NOT drink coffee, tea or soda while I drove. I AM GLAD ABOUT THAT. Because with all the driving that I did I would have drunk way too much caffeine, sweetener and dairy. So it really was sobering.
I can’t now believe how blasé I am about my coffee or tea while driving. As of yesterday I am never going to take it for granted.