When it comes to driving, I’ve always allowed my husband to take control of the wheel. Sitting in the passenger seat is so much easier than differentiating the brake from the gas pedal or driving between the lines, so I figure I’ve gotten the better end of that deal. But with driving comes the other “D” word: directions.
When you are driving, you are the person in charge of directions. You must know where you are going and when to exit Interstate 10 and head north.
I have always been fine with that. Directions meant effort and thinking and reading a map and knowing east from west. I thankfully relinquished directions decades ago. I consult the map when requested to do so, but my husband has always had the better head for geography.
In the past, when we’ve traveled across the country, we utilized the cutting edge tool known as the atlas. It was huge and large and mappy, mapish or maplike — take your pick.
Each page spread contained one state. As we traveled from north to south (and vice versa) I’d turn the page from Wisconsin to Illinois to Kentucky and (quickly) to Tennessee. I’d count the numbers on the page to see how many miles it was from Madison to Springfield, adding the mile markers in my head. I’d tell him I thought the best route looked to be Highway 55. He’d disagree, saying there was a quicker way, which he’d mapped out the previous night. I’d ask, “Highway 47 or 62?” He’d pick which one and away we’d go.
He was the driver. I was his shotgun-sitting sort-of navigator. It took some effort, but we always got from point A to point B mostly on time. We were a semi-well-oiled machine, or at least a married couple traveling in a semi-well-oiled machine.
We still travel, but things have changed.
First off, I’m still sitting shotgun, but I’m no longer chief navigation co-pilot. My husband has a new woman for that.
Her name is Siri, and holy heck she is boss.
Siri will not take anything other than her own opinion into consideration when mapping out a route. If she says Highway 65 and my husband believes it should be Highway 35, Siri is relentless. She is boss and is 100% sure she knows the quickest route. Because she does.
It drives my husband crazy.
She’ll say, “In 13 miles, take a slight left onto Roadway Boulevard.”
He’ll answer (to a machine), “That isn’t the best way. I’m sure we should stay on 45.”
He should know better than to argue with a woman over directions. But he doesn’t. He insists on taking Highway 45; but I’m on Siri’s side. We gals need to stick together.
“You’ve got to listen to her,” I say. “She’s mapped out the quickest route.”
He sighs, not having the energy to argue with two women simultaneously. We continue on the route — his or hers, I’m often not sure.
“High traffic ahead,” she’ll announce. “But you are still on the quickest route.”
Today, mid-route, she offered us an alternative that was one minute quicker. It involved taking a road my husband wasn’t familiar with.
“Might as well try it,” he said. “The quickest route is the best, even if it is only by a minute.”
I silently applauded him for this new outlook.
I guess I’ve officially been replaced as chief atlas navigator. As long as I can still sit shotgun while Siri is the brains of the business, I’m OK with that.
I dare say all three of us are OK with that.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.