Listen To The Lady

The new Chevrolet Impala is great, I'll say that first off. I drove it around with car experts who loved the new design, the space, performance and all the good stuff. Don't underestimate the virtues of a great design. But. There’s the navigation. There's nothing wrong with the navigation, per se. Sure, it's very well done. The problem is that turn-by-turn doesn't work for psychotics and people with trust issues. 

I was heading back to New York after showing the Impala to the auto guys up in New Paltz, N.Y., when the sky opened like a can of Schlitz and within minutes 87 South was the Hudson River. I saw fishermen in Boston Whalers. I saw Noah in the passing lane, sailing the Ark to Yonkers. 

And given that it was Sunday evening, everyone was heading back to New York. And while I'm 80% sure of the best way back to my borough from upstate, I decided to go with the omniscient brain in the console. In this weather, the traffic was a non-starter. And, honestly, the navigation worked fine until we got closer to New York. Then the voice, a woman who sounded vaguely like Hillary Clinton, suggested going on 95 south instead of doing the Tappan Zee. I decided she was wrong. Surely the traffic into the tunnels would be sheer hell. Why not stay on 87, do the bridge and head south on 278 into Brooklyn? The lady noticed and told me to get off the highway and follow her advice, because of "changing traffic conditions." 

What does that even mean? "Changing traffic conditions." What's wrong with that. Isn't change good? Hillary would say that. Because it doesn't mean anything. Why couldn't she be less like Hillary and more like Chris Christie? I was, after all, in New Jersey for God's sake, or I think I was. Or near it. Why can't the voice say, "We are rerouting because if you go this way you won't get home until 4 a.m. because I have friends in the Port Authority and they know you're coming, and guess what? They don't like you."

Hillary does not think change is good. She thinks it's bad. Very bad. And she was right. Change means a parking lot. A stand still. What did I do? I listened to Miss Manners and got off the damned thing at the first exit. Now I really had no idea where I was. Because I didn't have a map. Because I don't know how to read one. My daughter is with me, but instead of helping, she's using the 4G LTE to watch "Pretty Little Liars," which is a good description of that disembodied, hateful voice on which I'm relying. 

Because I'm in some suburb somewhere, no idea where, on some county road with a traffic light every 15 feet, which would be fine, but guess what? Every other idiot on the highway has the same voice in their console and that voice obviously said … wait for it … "traffic conditions have changed." 

So now, not only am I on a road with a string of lights like a ruby necklace from hell, but so is every other idiot who can't read a map. And it's a parking lot. Noah, I notice, has abandoned the ark and is now walking in the rain. I consider offering him a ride. I see a sign for the upcoming intersection, about 50 yards up the road (only 30 minutes by car in this traffic): Montvale three miles down the road if I get off this and take a right. I know Montvale, it's near Woodcliff Lake, and that's where BMW headquarters is. It's where Mercedes-Benz was. I take the turn. And the lady in the console is pissed. She's telling me to listen to her, not to some voice in my head. She's telling me to do a u-turn. She's telling me to park the car and walk. But she's wrong. I'm flying. I get to Montvale in five minutes.

But instead of doing what my instinct tells me to do, ignoring it because my instinct proved me wrong before, I follow her advice again. Stupid, stupid. I'm back on 95 heading to the GWB. And it's a parking lot. People are now leaving their vehicles. Noah rides past on a pair of porpoises. The lady had chosen not to warn me that traffic conditions have changed because they had already changed, presumably. There would be no further changing. People in other cars are, like me, weeping, hammering their steering wheels. People are breaking. A guy in a VW is so upset he is physically ripping open his car console to find the person who lives there giving him turn-by-turn directions. He extracts the entire unit and hurls it into the road, along with his steering wheel. 

I give up and decide to leave the highway and go to a Hardee's for dinner. But, no, I listen to the lady, instead, who says I can go home if I just listen to her. Have I upset her? Is she angry with me? Her voice technically sounds the same, but I sense an edge to it. She's on overtime now, and isn't getting paid time-and-a-half. It's my fault. I feel contrite, so I follow her orders to get on 95 heading south, and do what she had originally intended. 

So I'm now back on 95, heading in the opposite direction, heading south, away from New York: I am now basically heading from where Mercedes-Benz was to where it is (Atlanta). And I'm no longer rational. I'm talking to myself, tears streaming down my face. Did I mention my daughter was in the car? She's using the 4G LTE, no longer watching some stupid show, or to help out with Google Maps, but to find emergency psychological services. For herself. It should be for the woman in my console. 

I get off of 95. Me and the navigation lady are now arguing with each other, as she haven given up all pretense of being a disembodied Hillary, Secretary of State-type voice: "Oh, so you have better ideas? You are suddenly Mr. navigation? You, sir, have the intellect of a five year old. I swear if they ever let me out of this box I'm going to find you and spank you with a hair brush." 

I decide we will spend the night in Union, at my brother-in-law's. But I have to use navigation to get there, oh, irony of ironies. I request a route. "Let me out of the car," says the lady voice. "Just let me out." But wait. It's not her, it's my daughter, who has decided to hitchhike. Long story short (LOL), I change my mind again when I see signs for the Holland Tunnel. "Hey, jerk, traffic conditions have changed." mocks the lady. "Up yours" I reply. "Back atcha," she says. My daughter asks me why I'm talking to myself. 

Finally, we get home. The 1.5-hour drive took six hours. My basement's flooded and I can't find my thorazine. The message here is that navigation will not work for you unless you truly trust it totally. And that requires a person to be a Sufi, a Buddhist, a Benedictine monk, or a Confucian who isn't confused. And if you're going to go with nav, don't push the voice’s buttons. You can push buttons, but not hers. Don't try her patience. Just do what she says, and book a hotel when you get to Atlanta.

5 comments about "Listen To The Lady".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, June 2, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

    Never trust a car that tells you how to drive. When someone riding with me turns on the GPS that talks to you, and tells you the wrong way to go, I have the same response I'd have if a person told me that.


    Hand the keys to your GPS and see how that computes.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 2, 2015 at 10:51 a.m.

    The only time I ever used a GPS was in Spain. Many times it was correct, but many times it took me in circles and went back to a paper map. Trust you instinct. 

  3. Karl Greenberg from MediaPost, June 2, 2015 at 12:38 p.m.

    You know, I had a brand I won't mention, on borrow a couple of years ago. This his hilraious: I ws trying to get to newark airport, by itslef a near impossible task. Teh thing told me to take a a bridge

  4. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, June 2, 2015 at 4:58 p.m.

    That's Jersey for you. I heard a person give someone directions to "follow tree."

    That would be route 3 to you and me.

  5. Dave Brody from Purch, June 2, 2015 at 8:50 p.m.

    Speaking of BMW HQ, my 2002 X5 nav-voice starts off sounding like Mary from the Midwest, but gets increasingly Teutonic the further from her commands I stray. And, yes, I too eventually get her to the point of: "You VILL make a U-turn. NOW!"
    Apparently this started with the voice system in the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon when it was found that - in stressful noisy battle conditions – the mostly male pilots responded better to a female voice. Example: "Fuel: Bingo" (meaning, "get thee to a tanker soon"). Pilots affectionately referred to her as "Bitching Betty" or, simply, "The Bitch" or the Royal Air Force equivalent: "Nagging Nora."

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