Jane, you ignorant GPS!

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This Dan Aykroyd inspired title sums up my challenging relationship with Jane the lovely voice which “wears the pants” for my TomTom GPS navigational system.

Our relationship started as many do; two people from different walks of life taking a chance on pairing-up based on mutual trust. It was by no means an impulsive decision, as I literally picked her out of a menu of other available people. Sure it sounds shallow; but there were a few decent options, both male and female, with a variety of pleasant accents to choose from and then oddly, also Homer Simpson whom I assume says at the right moment – “Doh, you just missed the exit, have another Duff!”

After listening to all of them in what is the real definition of “speed dating,” I really liked Jane’s voice. She’s a Brit (don’t quiz me further on regional dialects within the UK), and sounds terrific when asking you to make a left turn or warning you about the upcoming “roundabout.”  So, based on our initial interaction I went ahead and programmed her into my driving life. Have to say my very understanding wife helped me with this choice and was OK with this budding relationship – probably because she knew that most times she would be right there when Jane and I were together, and could just shut her down whenever she wanted to.

Mostly, our relationship over the past year or so has in-general been terrific (referring to Jane that is.)  The relationship works probably because we don’t see each other that often, and when we do she seems to be patient and a great source of information and guidance. I just let her know where we need to go and she tells me the best way to get there. Also, Jane really doesn’t say much, and only interrupts the music when she feels she has something important to say.

But like most relationships, there are times, especially on long trips that Jane can be a bit pushy.  Her easy manner turns sour quickly when you decide to not follow her directions to a “T.” Say, for example, I miss a turn, or head in a direction which I’ve used before, prefer and know is correct; but for some reason Jane doesn’t believe is the most efficient – well then, her dark side appears. This lovely Brit turns into a snarling version of Ursula, the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. I’ve had the experience where after not turning just where she has wanted to go, she starts saying things like “bear right” or “left turn ahead” in a highly repetitive, seemingly agitated and increasingly loud manner until you follow her directions. This has happened more than a few times, and frankly is a scary side I didn’t see when we first met.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s the fact that our relationship is one-dimensional. Maybe it’s the old “familiarity breeds contempt” problem.  But I understand her perspective – I mean, who can’t remember being in the family car on a road trip when their father became highly agitated because mom (or vice versa) couldn’t read the road map (or fold it for that matter)?

The best idea for Jane and me may be couples therapy, but Googling therapists who cover human-technology relationships is an unproductive exercise (probably something that’s coming in the next few decades, though).  I tried to speak with my local pastor, he said “son, please leave my office.” So, the choices for us are clear – just keep trying to move forward understanding that each partner in a relationship comes from a different background, drive blindly without direction, change the voiceover to another person (not really fair to her) or as a last resort….

…pull the plug on the relationship!

Happy Motoring!

About Wally

Wally Greene is both an eternal optimist and cynic, a waffling right-winger, a somewhat decent husband and father of three, budding masters swimmer, delusional comedy writer, chocolate lab lover, martini drinker and executive recruiter...not necessarily in that order.

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