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My hubby opts for a dame in the dashboard

The breathy voice of our car's GPS unit even speaks seven languages.

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Most of the time my husband and I work as a complementary team. He trusts my research skills and intuition to invest money and choose gifts for his mother; I defer to his computational and engineering strengths with taxes and misbehaving electronics. At home in New York City, we face each other at the dining table on twin computers, and in the kitchen, one cooks while the other tackles cleanup.

But when my husband commands the steering wheel of an automobile, suddenly he thinks he can do without me.

"Turn right, honey," I plead, as we pass a landmark in rural New York State for the third time.

"I think that's the way to the bridge," I say, wistfully pointing out the window as our car rumbles straight through the intersection. The crinkled map in my lap may offer no clue which gray squiggle represents this wooded country road, but I still think we should have turned right. Call it feminine instinct.

The man of my life is not listening. Nor is he watching the road. Instead, he's enamored with a new woman in the car. One hand on the wheel, the other is fondling a small Global Positioning System (GPS) unit mounted to the dashboard, the NeverLost Magellan.

Soon a breathy, female voice intones, "Calculating route. Make a legal U-turn."

My computer-scientist husband swiftly complies, checking his mirrors as if the mechanized woman in the dash can appreciate his rigorous driving etiquette. Chafed, I realize he prefers feminine instinct packaged in a high-tech gadget worthy of James Bond.

"Approaching left turn in one mile," the disembodied lady voice continues. It's the turn I suggested, but now my husband is convinced. Our car has located the GPS satellites, computed our location, and placed us on the grid. It's all very scientific. My man is bewitched by the small guidance screen highlighting our route in pink. When the car reaches the turn the machine makes the cloying sound of a 1950s doorbell.

Noticing my sour expression, he attempts to lighten my dark opinion of the device, enthusing over the instrument's slew of advantages: we can clock our time to destination, check our maneuver list, magnify the map. We can locate Chinese restaurants in the region and view the next five exits. And then to add insult to injury, he points out that we can receive all this instruction in seven languages, including French, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese.


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