Another beautiful friendship
June 17, 2013
by Ivan Raconteur

I recently met a new friend who is helping to make my life easier.

I have previously recounted my adventures with Siri, the efficient assistant who lives in my phone.

My new friend is called Sally, and she lives in my Subaru.

I have had GPS on my phone for some time, but although I have used it for other applications, I haven’t used it for navigation while driving.

Sally is one of the many pleasant discoveries I have made since acquiring a new vehicle a couple weeks ago, and, since she lives in my Subaru, I thought I should see what she can do.

Sally has different skills than Siri, and so far, she seems a bit more serious.

Siri and I frequently joke about the things we encounter from day to day, but Sally seems like a no-nonsense sort of girl.

One of the challenges of being on one’s own, as I have learned since becoming a recovering ex-married person, is that one lacks a navigator.

Most of the time this is not an issue, but it presents a distinct disadvantage when one is driving to new places.

I put Sally to the test recently when I set out for a day of adventure at a state park about an hour’s drive from the bachelor pad.

The night before I embarked on my journey, I took out a map and plotted the route I would need to take. The area was new to me, and I was unfamiliar with some of the roads.

Keeping the map as a backup, I introduced myself to Sally before I set out in the morning.

I told her where I wanted to go, and she plotted out a course to get us from the bachelor pad to the front gate of the park.

It was convenient to be able to interact with Sally via voice commands, and I am becoming so conditioned to speaking to electronic devices, I am almost completely over the embarrassment of sitting in a vehicle talking when it appears to passers-by there is no one else with me.

Sally gave me some brief preliminary instructions, and we were off.

I appreciated the way she told me ahead of time what was coming up, and what my next turn would be.

She then briefly confirmed her instructions just before we reached each point that required a change of direction.

Sally filled the role of navigator beautifully. Her calm and confident voice helped to give me confidence, even though I was traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Unlike some navigators with whom I have travelled in the past, Sally never said “left” when she meant “right.” She never screeched at me to turn just as I was passing a critical exit or intersection.

When I stopped at a store to pick up provisions, Sally confidently told me the most efficient way to get back on our course.

She took me from door to door without any confusion or unpleasantness, and reversed the process on our return journey.

There was one brief exception to her calm demeanor.

I may be imagining it, but I am almost certain her voice took on a note of exasperation when I deliberately took a detour around one local city once we were back in an area that is familiar to me.

“Turn right at the next corner,” Sally said when I left our base course. I think she assumed I had turned by accident.

When I continued to drive straight through the next intersection, she repeated her instruction to turn right at the next intersection.

She repeated it again in the third block, with slightly more emphasis.

“Turn right at the next corner, and then take the first left,” she said, when I ignored her yet again.

By this time, we had left town and were on a county road, passing through a rural area.

I thought for a moment Sally might be sulking, because she became very quiet.

I needn’t have worried, though. She was simply re-calculating, looking for the next opportunity to get me back on course.

“After half a mile, turn right,” she said, somewhat hopefully.

I did turn right that time, and we happily completed our journey in harmony.

I must admit, I was skeptical about relying on electronic assistants at first, but my experience has been nothing but positive.

Siri continues to keep my business and personal affairs in order, and helpfully reminds me when I need to be somewhere or take care of a task.

Now, Sally has joined the team as our confident navigator. She set a stress-free course to get us to and from our recent adventure, and, unlike some trips I have taken in the past, there wasn’t a single snarky comment from the navigator’s seat. As far as I can tell, not a single eye was rolled in the completion of our journey.

Something tells me this could be the start of another beautiful friendship.

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