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Madeleine Begun Kane,
Humor Columnist,

Madeleine Begun Kane



I've been hearing great things about Ask Jeeves and its question answering approach to search engine queries. So I decided to consult Jeeves about a car problem -- an engine noise that nobody's been able to fix. Here's how my consultation went:

Good evening, Mr. Jeeves. Do you think you can help me with my car noise problem?


Thanks, Jeeves, for offering me Acura info and for all those other handy links. But right now I don't want to buy a car, troubleshoot my zip drive, look up auto terminology, watch an online video tutorial on software bugs, find the history of autos, or buy, sell, or lease a car.


Didn't I just tell you I'm not shopping for a car? And why are you trying to sell me timepiece collectibles?


Wow, that Baccarat crystal sure looks great! Hmm, maybe I'll order some. No -- I have to focus on the strange sounds coming from my engine. Do you have any suggestions, Jeeves?


Huh? What does rock collecting have to do with my engine noise? I'm sure it's a perfectly fine hobby, but rock collecting just isn't for me. And frankly, I can't imagine why anybody would want to visit Kurt Cobain's Magic Talking 8 Ball.


Look, Jeeves, I'm just not interested in Kurt Cobain. The guy's dead, so I'm pretty sure he won't be able to help me with the annoying sounds coming from my car. And I'm not in the mood to see any online magic tricks. Unless you know a magic trick that will make my car engine noise disappear.


That's very nice of you to offer me a listing of celebrity obits and gravesites. And I'm sure that a step-by-step guide to will preparation will come in handy one of these days. I may even bookmark all that info about the Deadhead subculture for future reference. But right now, I'd really appreciate it if you'd concentrate on my car engine.


I'm sure you mean well, Jeeves, but you're driving me nuts. First, you depress me with all those morbid death links, and now you're try to distract me with the Indy 500. Plus you're apparently under the impression that I live in Australia. While the Australian TV schedule you gave me sounds terrific, it does me absolutely no good here in New York.


I've apparently confused you. I came to you for car help -- not mental health help.


Okay, let me try this once last time. Car, cars, cars, I tell you. Car engine noises, to be precise. And yes, I'm depressed, but only because you're not helping me with my car problem -- a sort of ping, pang, pong sound, on the off chance that you're interested. So I don't need mental health assistance. Not yet, anyway.


More Acura links? And you want me to rent an apartment in Oklahoma? That's it -- I give up. I'm signing off and heading to yet another car repair service. Scratch that -- I'm off to see a shrink.

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