18 October 2007

Travels with Debbie

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Jerry’s new girlfriend. Her name is Debbie, and she's the voice inside the GPS navigator that I gave him for his birthday. We named her Debbie because, years ago, when I worked at Information on Demand, "Debbie" became our generic term for somebody's administrative assistant, as in "He was out of the office, but I left a message with his Debbie." We took Debbie along on our recent trip to Michigan. Jerry put her through her paces, Annette driving, en route to her and Lauren's place from the airport (Gerald Ford International in Grand Rapids, official abbreviation GRR). He did not activate her, I noticed, on our way back to the airport, when Colleen’s friend Larry, a male, was driving.

Debbie also went with us to Sea Ranch a couple of weeks ago, where she did a fairly good job of getting us around the network of twisty byways and cul-de-sacs that we'd never completely mastered while we lived there. On the drive up from Oakland, though -- a route I know very well, thank you -- she and I disagreed repeatedly. I found myself developing quite an attitude with regard to ol' Deb. If you disregard her directions, she says "Recalculating..." in a long-suffering, put-upon, passive-aggressive tone.

I'm not perfect, but neither is the Debster. She's encouraged us to take non-existent highway entrances, referred to exits by names that don't correspond to actual signage, and led us onto roads alleged to lead straight to our destination, but that turn out to be discontinuous or unpaved. In Debbie's database, the abbreviation "Br" apparently stands for "Brother." It didn't take long for this fluke to surface in Portland, the City of Bridges. I couldn't believe my ears when she suggested, in her calm yet earnest manner, that we get onto the Morrison Brother. Debbie, you silly goose.

I don’t have a picture of Debbie; she’s a Garmin Nuvi 350, if you’re curious. But here’s one of Günther, who lives in Lauren and Annette’s back yard. Wouldn’t you like to know what he looks like from the neck down?

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