Road trips aren’t as much fun as they used to be.
Oh, sure, I still get a kick out of Interstate rest stops. I mean, where else can you wash your hands alongside biker chicks and a brigade of old ladies who just stepped single file off a tour bus wearing their moon-boot-sized Easy Spirits and their polyester slacks with elastic waist bands and their “I Lost Mine in Las Vegas” sweatshirts?
And, who doesn’t love road trip food? A car ride gives me an excuse to eat a Big Mac and fries because that mythical mom and pop home-cookin’ kind of place where they make the best food this side of the Mississippi eludes us every time. We’ve tried to find those places. Sometimes we pull into an eatery off some exit ramp that advertises family style dining and walk into a café where the menu is printed on laminated placemats and five varieties of pie revolve in a twirling glass cabinet and waitresses wear aprons and their names embroidered onto their blouse pockets and we get served by a gal named Charlene or Flo who carries a Pyrex coffee pot at a dangerous angle and calls us “Honey” and we’ll be sitting across from someone sipping a milk shake through a straw because their tracheotomy makes it difficult for them to swallow solid food and we’ll look at each other thinking the same thing, “I’m not hungry anymore.” Better the anonymity of the Micky D’s drive-through.
However, a particular brand of fun that we used to have on our driving adventures has been taken away from us. Siri has come into our lives. In case you don’t know her, Siri lives in the iPhone and narrates our triptiks via the car radio. “In two miles, take Exit 16A left for Interstate 70 to Indianapolis.” She is very calm. Her diction is perfect. We hate her. She is buzz kill. With Siri along, we’ve lost all the drama from our former car trips. Prior to Siri, we didn’t so much embark on a vacation as an adventure in contemplating divorce court.
“Oh, crap! I have to get over to the LEFT lane?!? Why don’t they give you more warning!”
“Put your signal on!”
“OK. OK. Don’t yell at me!”
“You’re going to have to change lanes!”
“I KNOW! But I can’t get over there! The idiot beside us is right in my blind spot! ”
“We gotta get over!”
“Can’t do it!”
“OH. Great. Now we’ve missed our exit.”
“I’M NOT YELLING!”
“FINE! Now where do we go?”
Siri doesn’t yell. She recalibrates. We could all learn a lot from Siri.
Mind you, she isn’t perfect. She gets anxious if we stop to get gas. “Take a U-turn at the next intersection and proceed to the route.” Her instructions become more insistent. She repeats herself in case you missed it the first time. “Take a U-turn at the next intersection and proceed to the route.” If we insist on parking, she gets really annoyed. “Proceed to the route.” (pause) “Proceed to the route.” (pause) “Proceed to the route!”
“Siri, sweetie! Calm down!” The only way to stop her nagging is to shut the engine off. But she doesn’t hold it against us and never gives us the silent treatment. When we are once again pointed in the right direction, she’ll be back with a cheery, “In ten miles, make a right turn onto State Route 95.” Peace is restored.
Very seldom is Siri wrong. But it can happen. Just this past week, we were headed to a resort in southern Indiana. We had given her our destination coordinates. As we got closer, we could see the sign pointing the way to our inn. But Siri told us, “In 800 feet turn left onto Ballard Street.”
“What? No, we turn right, Siri! Onto West Baden Drive!”
“Turn left onto Ballard Street.”
“Why are you telling us to go left?”
“Turn left onto Ballard Street.”
“Oh, pipe down, Siri.”
“Yeah! Shut up, Siri! Ha! Ha! Silly cow!”
You see, I’ve been thinking that maybe Siri has saved our marriage. She’s given us someone upon whom we can deflect exit ramp angst.
Part of me misses the old days. But we don’t get lost nearly as often.