Friday, June 13, 2008

A Family Trip With the Other Woman (Today's Column)

By Lara Bricker
June 13, 2008 6:00 AM
I spent much of the last weekend on a road trip with the family — and our new friend, "The Maestro." The Maestro is my husband, Ken's, latest toy, which he proudly presented me as we climbed in the car Friday afternoon for a four or so hour drive to Westport, Conn.
Ken and I have different traveling styles. I am more fly by the seat of my pants, we'll get there when we get there, no worries. This drives Ken insane. My blasé approach to travel, which often includes not exactly leaving on time, is more than he can take. And he always wants me to print out directions to our destination a week or so in advance. I usually scribble them on a spare piece of paper in my ever present reporter's notebook.
And so it was Friday afternoon that he found what he felt was a partial solution — the onboard GPS direction gadget do-dad. Proudly attached to the cup holder, and plugged into the cigarette lighter, The Maestro was everything that I am not — prepared, organized, well-traveled and ready to leave on time. Complete with an annoying pseudo-sexy computer voice.
"What's the address?" Ken asked as we began out of the driveway. He typed it into The Maestro, which promptly told us that we would be turning left out of our driveway in point five seconds. I was sick of this thing already.
Stay on the current road for two miles, the semi-sexy voice told us. OK. Another 10 seconds later. Stay on the current road for one point five miles, it announced. This was getting annoying already. Prepare to turn left in one mile. As we turned successfully onto Route 101, it gave a happy little ding.
"I feel like I'm in my own video game," I announced. "We have made it to level two."
Oh boy. And only four more hours of this to go. Apparently, The Maestro's usual human counterpart does not listen to directions well. I came to this conclusion as we headed down I-95 south. For each exit we passed, The Maestro told us no fewer than two times per exit, "Remain on the current road. Remain on the current road." And when we listened to the directions, we were again rewarded with the happy little ding. I tried to turn off the voice component of The Maestro, which is apparently not an option. It seems once you get The Maestro, you get all of her, like it or not.
About halfway through the trip, we pulled off the highway for food. The alert went off from The Maestro. "Recalculating route, recalculating route, make legal U-turn where able." Ha, I felt a little smug satisfaction. Take that Maestro, we're not following your directions.

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