When Doris Lets Me Down


(Image from mappery.com)

(Image from mappery.com)

The Evolution of X recently wrote a post about maps versus smartphones. Unlike E of X, I do like using the narration on my smartphone. It saves time, money and gas.

When I look at a map to get somewhere in a city, I have to look several times because I have a memory like a sieve. Now, looking at a map while driving is never a good idea, not to mention impossible in the dark. And when I come to my turnoff street, I usually notice too late, so I have to make big loops back, especially if it’s on a highway access road.

Doris, the woman in my phone, helps me keep my eyes on the road. Except when she’s grumpy and decides not to say anything, which seems to be rather often these days. (Menopause maybe? I recognize the mood swings.)  When she’s a little tight-lipped, I do have to glance at the screen, but only long enough to see that I have to turn right in half a mile.

So I’m learning to live with her.  Her silences can be annoying, especially when she says nothing for the whole drive and then pipes up at the very end with her “Rerouting: make a legal U-turn when possible”. Because that’s what she always says when we get to our destination. Doris hates arriving. But since I’m not always rational myself, I shouldn’t be too judgmental.

Anyway, a few months ago, when I was emptying out my car, I got rid of most of the city maps, including the one of Austin. Who needs them when you have Doris in your phone?

I found out that I still do the other day.

My daughter R had a “Frenemies” workshop somewhere at 4pm. I had to pick her up a little early from school, since school lets out at 4pm. R had forgotten that she was not to go to PE, so I had to find her there first. Consequently, we started a little on the late side. But I wasn’t worried. I didn’t know exactly where the address was, just the general area of Austin, which didn’t worry me either, because Doris would know where to go. She takes the anxiety out of going somewhere for the first time.

So when we got a little closer, I turned on the phone and pulled up the address, which I had punched in earlier. Doris told me to take a left in 1.3 miles, and then the phone went dead. I had forgotten that lately my phone battery doesn’t hold much power and that Doris loves power. She absolutely binges on the stuff.

So here we were, at about 3:55, somewhere near, but with no idea where to go next. I have a recharger in the car, but it doesn’t work. At least, that’s what I thought. I have several phone rechargers for the car, with varying degrees of usefulness, but I have only one of them in the car at any given time. And somehow they keep switching.

I looked for a convenience store, and if you’ve ever needed a convenience store really badly, you know that they’re like a reverse Platform 13 1/2. They tend to disappear into thin air when you need them most: “Damn, I could’ve sworn there was one right around here.” Maybe I should try driving the car straight into the bank/Chick-Fil-A/nail salon that seems to have taken its place, and see what happens. But so far I lack the courage.

We ran into a Randall’s–no, not with the car; we got out first–where the manager was standing at the phone, ignoring me and continuing his chat about his children despite–or maybe because of–my increasingly murderous stare. So I asked a store clerk, who didn’t really know where the maps would be, if they even sold them. We looked near the books and magazines, but couldn’t find them.

I stormed out again, terribly frustrated by now, with R in my wake, looking glum. The “Frenemies” workshop was only going to last an hour and a half, and by now it had started.

We drove along a little further, me still hoping against hope for a convenience store. Nothing. So I tried the recharger anyway. And what do you know? It was the one that allows the phone to work as long as it’s plugged in and the car is on.

Doris was back and continued to direct us. Five minutes later: “Rerouting…” Woohoo! We’d made it! Only 15 minutes late.

So not only will I get a new battery for my phone, I will also buy another map of Austin, just in case.

10 responses to “When Doris Lets Me Down

  1. “Doris hates arriving.” Heh heh. Fun story! My partner and I had to go to neighboring Raleigh last weekend on an errand. (About a thirty minute drive.) We don’t go there often and don’t begin to know our way around. B insisted on letting her phone tell us how to get there. Ten minutes after we left the house, she started worrying because the charge was draining quickly. (The woman in her phone is also an energy sink.) And B had left the charger in her own car. Fortunately, I had consulted Google maps before we left the house and printed instructions and a map, so my innate distrust of Doris and her ilk saved the day. I did not gloat (much).

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  2. Hey, I have a memory like a sieve too! I can get just as lost the second time I go somewhere as I did the first! And this city isn’t even that confusing for normal people. Doris sounds like my kind of friend. 🙂

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  3. Okay, this post really made me laugh! 🙂 Fun to read E of X’s post and then yours.

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  4. Fun post. GPS can be a blessing . . . or a curse. I prefer maps.

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  5. Marie-Jacqueline

    I am just on my lunchbreak now and I was reading this navigation story of yours!
    Can’t sponsor any peticular brand, but lets say I have a TT.
    Not that I drive myself, but because travelling doesn’t come easy to me this TT helps. Because I know where I am, know how long the journey takes etc.
    A few years ago I did take the TT with me but as it turned out the battery was empty and I had no recharger with me. I always do, but ofcourse not that peticualr time!

    My partner and me were going to a concert in Sittard; it was snowing; we couldn’t find the place where the concert was. So at one point we decided to go back home; it was still snowing.
    After that I never forgot the recharger!

    You have Doris, I have Hannes!
    He is a Limburgian like me and talks Limburgish (Venlo region)
    Much friendlier as those voices from above the dikes!
    No hard “g’s” strange “r’s” for me!

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  6. Marie-Jacqueline

    Forget to add this!
    A few weeks ago I started taking driving lessons!
    Being 56,5: I think I embrace the challenge.
    It has its ups and downs but I like it and sometimes I even enjoy it!
    It is an äutomaat” (don’t know the English word for it)

    Learning to drive with a navigation device is part of the training!

    You have an exclusive here, you know!
    Didn’t tell anyone on the internet yet!

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