Let me start, Gentle Reader, by saying that I am perfectly cognizant of the fact that those disembodied voices coming from all types of electronic equipment are not tiny little people who dwell within.
That being said…
I’ve only interacted with one of those incorporeal entities that wasn’t thoroughly unpleasant. Most make disgruntled workers look absolutely delightful.
I’ll start with the worst.
In the new cars at the dealership where I work, the tiny little assistant is flat out horrible, but only when I’m alone in the car. Never with customers. Maybe it’s like when your kids are around others, they are usually angels, and at home they make you wonder why you ever thought parenthood was a good idea.
In the book, I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolf, some mean girls have made sarcasm into an art form. There are levels.
Level one: What a pretty shirt. Obviously, the shirt is ugly.
Level two: What an ugly shirt. The shirt wearer, because you called the garment ugly, is led to believe that you are using sarcasm, and you like the shirt.
Level three: What a pretty shirt. OMG! Where’s you get it? I love it! The shirt wearer is convinced the shirt is gorgeous and you might even have a new friend.
A thoroughly nasty tactic employed by ugly people.
But, I have discovered that the audible computer interface installed in the cars I sell has raised the stakes and developed the soul-shattering Sarc four.
In the cars, I have only one request. I have discovered a Sirius XM station, Eighties on Eight. It’s exactly what you might think; eighties music. One Saturday afternoon the guest DJ was singer and piner for Jesse’s Girl, Rick Springfield—I really like it.
So, when I take a car to gas up or bring it from the back for a test drive, I like to listen to it. But evidently, my audible “assistant” nemesis is not a fan of it.
I will put the audio on Sirius and in a perfectly clear voice, enunciating properly, say, “Eighties on eight”.
The response is invariably, “Excuse me?” Then, this evil genius runs through her entire spiel, explaining, in laborious detail what she can do, and informing me how to ask for it, with detailed examples.
And there is no way I have figured out, TO SHUT HER UP!
I begin restating, then try to cancel her oh so helpful lecture by pushing buttons and screeching “End! End! Stop! Cancel!”, then begin shouting obscenities at her: “Now look here, you computer-generated, passive-aggressive…”.
The Kid has a Fiat. It too has a computer interface. This one has a built-in nav screen with spoken directions. And she is a piece of work.
Make one wrong turn, go right instead of left in a parking lot, take a known shortcut, and you get silence. For a few seconds. Then in the snottiest tone imaginable, she says, “Recalculating”. Like you are the stupidest driver/human in history.
You may think you can’t hear eyes rolling, but you so can.
I thought the Target self-check and I were friends. Then, yesterday I heard her say to a fellow shopper, “Thanks for stopping in! Have a great day!”
Fickle, thy name is the Target self-check disembodied voice
But then we arrive at my new cellphone. After a very long, never-ending day recently, I was using the nav app—and made a wrong turn. I tensed for the coming derision.
She just calmly began giving me the new directions that would get me to my destination; sans snark and judgment.
It’s time for a kinder, gentler disembodied computer schoolmarm.
Thanks for your time.
Contact me at email@example.com.