Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Problem with “Bonnie” and Me

Since New Year’s I’ve learned how to use my new GPS unit. But as I said yesterday, it will never make me a saint.

When I started working with my GPS unit, I tried all of the computerized voices and arbitrarily selected “Bonnie.” I checked off several other preferences, keyed in our home address, and loaded several addresses I knew I’d need in coming days. But using a GPS is a little trickier than that.

Almost predictably I ran into a number of problems. I had driven across two state lines before I discovered that I didn’t want to follow the yellow line “Bonnie” was showing me. Instead, I needed to follow the dark red line. No wonder I was getting frustrated whenever the two lines split apart with the yellow line heading west while “Bonnie” was telling me to head east.

An even worse problem was translating what I heard “Bonnie” telling me. She likes to say things like “keep left and then keep left” only to repeat herself five seconds later. To say the least, how she phrases things is quite different from what I would say in the same situation. And her constant repetition unnerves me. Of course, heading from Atlanta to Birmingham, “Bonnie” sat there not saying a word for a couple of hours, only to fall asleep with a worn out battery right when I needed her the most.

Plugging in the power cord fixed everything, I thought, until “Bonnie” started getting too chatty when I came to some road construction, discovered the exit was closed, and realized I needed to take a different route. “Bonnie” kept protesting non-stop so I finally turned her off to get her to shut up.

The fact is when “Bonnie” is chatting away I can get pretty sharp with her, especially when she pulls stunts like telling me to take an exit in ½ mile and the Atlanta freeway system has two such exits side by side at that spot. There I am yelling, “Which one do I take, Bonnie?” and then smarting off by saying, “Don’t tell me I just took the wrong exit, Bonnie. You’re the one who didn’t tell me whether to take I-65 North instead of I-65 South. Thanks a lot for nothing!”

One evening last week I spent 3½ hours on the road at night driving through a huge storm that sparked more than 19,800 lightning strikes and was spinning off deadly tornadoes, including one that killed 8 people. There I was driving in driving rain hour after hour, only to have “Bonnie” take me to the wrong hotel. I had a few choice snide remarks for her, to say the least.

I never got into the habit of swearing. But swear words, of course, aren’t the only words that should make us wince.

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