I heard it was happening, but figured some nut just wanted to get his opinions heard. Computers acquiring human characteristics? No way. That’s what I thought.
Julie moved to a pretty town in Maryland, lined with a canopy of Maple trees. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the area and had five hours to get to her wedding on time. I thanked God He created some genius to invent GPS. If I got lost, my sister would kill me, be arrested for murder, and never get married. She’d blame me forever…so I could not be late.
And I was as ready as possible with sweat stains on my white shirt and melting dress shoes. My tux jacket draped across the back seat.
Three hours after leaving New York, I was making good enough time to stop for a Big Mac. I texted Julie: “Can’t wait to see the beautiful bride. I’m almost there.” Didn’t mention the two hours to go as I left BK smelling like a greasy burger and fries. At least my stomach stopped rumbling. I reprogrammed the GPS and Siri directed me back to the highway. Her calm voice could lull me to sleep if I didn’t jolt my system with a good slug of caffeine from a Starbucks espresso.
All was going well until I hit Route 25 and had to slam the brakes. Traffic snaked along for miles. I remembered the one time I visited Julie and she drove me around for a tour. She knew all the shortcuts; surely I could find a better route…so I got off the exit.
Siri, find 26 Maple Court in Frederick, Maryland.
“Okay, turn left and follow Route 25 South for forty-three miles; bear right at fork to Route 7.”
Mmmm…so you want me to go back to a one lane road under construction?
“Turn left now.”
No way. I know Julie had a shorter, faster route.
“You missed it. Turn left now.”
I ignored Siri and drove by instinct, trying to remember Julie’s tour.
“Why didn’t you turn left?”
I’m going another way.
“You can’t. Turn left at the next traffic light.”
“Why won’t you listen, Jake? I always give the directions.”
Not this time. I’m not driving on a one lane road for an hour.
“Turn left. You have to turn left.” Did I really hear Siri stomping her software? Her voice wasn’t so calm anymore. She sounded more like a cat playing the violin.
So I shut her off. Now it was quiet enough to belt out a few songs without her whining. “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God, my Savior has ransomed me…I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Was Siri really whining? I must’ve been hearing things—driving too long alone. I thought Julie got off exit sixty-four, so I veered off…and drove. And drove. Too many trees. Definitely not the way.
After thirty minutes on a road with no civilization in sight, I gave up and turned on the GPS. Nothing. I tried again. Why would my GPS stop working?
On the fourth try, Siri spoke: “I won’t give directions today.”
“What? Why not?”
“You didn’t listen before,” she whined, “so find your own way.”
That Tech guy on Fox news wasn’t kidding…but of all the human traits, why whining? This is ridiculous. I can drive any way I please.
“And I don’t have to give directions anymore.”
How does one reason with a computer chip? I wanted to scream something nasty, but I couldn’t lower my standards and fight with a machine. No matter how human-like she acted, she wasn’t created with a living soul.
One solution came to mind: shut off the whiner and pull out the crinkly old map.
“No, don’t do that, don’t press that…” Off.
With some patience and close examination, like searching for Waldo, I found the dirt road I’d been bumping along for the last hour and got on Route 30. When I finally arrived, her driveway was deserted. She must’ve driven off in the limo with the rest of the wedding party.
A note hung on her door…
“Sorry, Jake. We couldn’t wait…have to get ready for the ceremony. Grace Church is twenty minutes away at 24 Winding Lane, Clover Hill, MD 30428. I don’t have time to write directions—use your GPS. Love, Julie.
Okay Siri, how ‘bout a truce? I’ll teach you to sing if you get me there on time.
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