Saturday, December 27, 2008

Toothaches and Technology

I have a major toothache. My Bluetooth is killing me. In fact, it may be listed as the cause of my demise on the coroner’s report: “Death by safety device.” Ever since the new California law was passed last January I have become the equivalent of a six-year-old with car keys. I weave, I slow down, I park in the fast lane of the Freeway, I accelerate while making tight, left turns on overpass exits and go Dukes-of-Hazzard over the side walls, launching into the air. The landings are taking a toll on my car’s suspension and my spinal column. I’m doing all this in the name of safety while I attempt to use my “hands-free” equipment.

I had none of these problems before. One hand drove and one hand held my phone. I used voice commands and could actually utilize my eyes to watch the road. Now, I drive with my foot while simultaneously looking through my purse and pulling everything out searching for my Bluetooth. Once I’ve located it, the dangerous part begins.

As I left San Francisco recently, I headed out on the Bay Bridge. My girlfriend called me to firm up directions to her house in nearby Benicia. Just as she was telling me which lane to get into, the earpiece went dead. This meant I had to get the charger out of my purse while trying to navigate three lanes of speeding, maniacal drivers perched hundreds of feet over shark-infested waters. Once plugged into the cigarette lighter I now had to insert the other, miniscule end into my Bluetooth. This is best achieved with a skilled surgeon, floodlights, and magnifying glasses equal to the Hubble Telescope. Somehow, while nearly sitting on the steering wheel, I made the connection. I took my seat, hooked the thing over my ear, and, just as I was about to give it a command, the coil of the charger sprang back into place and launched the device off my head and into the next dimension.

There are severe issues with voice recognition as well. This is an example of a recent conversation:


Bluetooth: “Please say a command.”
Me: “Call.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
Me: “Dial.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
Me: “Call.”
BT: “Well why didn’t you say that in the first place, you idiot? Please state the name or number you wish to dial.”

Now, at this point, Artificial Intelligence basically takes over the planet and we are all at its mercy.

BT: “Did you say ‘Humpty Dumpty?’ ”
Me: “No.”
BT: “Did you say ‘Howdy Dooty?’ ”
Me: “No.”
BT: “Did you say ‘Jabba the Hut?’ ”
Me: “Yes.” I have discovered this will actually activate the command known as “Jamie at Work,” thereby connecting me with my husband.

He is experiencing a dysfunctional relationship with his safety-accessory as well. He said he couldn’t hear anything in the Bluetooth over the roar of his truck so he went with the type that mounts on the visor. This, too, was supposedly designed to be simple to use while driving. All you do is push a button to activate and start talking. But he still can’t hear anything so he just yanks it off the visor and shoves the whole thing up to his ear. It is approximately the size of a clipboard. This comes in handy when he has to attach it to his hair and hang it off the side of his head. He says when he is pulled over by the police he will protest saying he is, in fact, using a “hands-free” device.

After I left Nancy’s house from Benicia the next day, I made a final attempt to connect with the outside world from the confines of my car. I had checked messages and knew another friend, Teresa, was trying to reach me.

Southbound I-5 stretched out before me like a comfy couch, my headset was charged; all systems seemed to be a “go.” I managed to navigate my way through voice commands and actually connect with the right person. The only problem seemed to be the volume. I mean the volume in the way a jet engine might sound two feet from the fired-up burners, only much louder. It was the demon now flanking my head. I pushed every button to no avail. I was apologizing, while attacking my ear, when the thing flew off again, this time landing under the seat. “Keep talking!” I yelled, zooming down the freeway using the sound of her voice for homing assistance. With my legs hanging out the driver’s side window, I hung upside down to peer under my seat and found it hiding behind an In-and-Out Burger napkin. I had only changed lanes seven times and driven under a big-rig once. No harm done. I resigned myself to the roaring volume and, with my right hand, held the thing three feet from my head, still managing to suffer hearing loss.

With my nerves jangled and a ringing in my head, I pulled into Starbucks in Los Banos. I figured I needed a hot cup of coffee to complete my driving maneuvers. While safely stopped in the parking lot I managed to fix the problem du jour and attempted to phone my children. “Command not recognized while flip is open,” my nemesis taunted. “Flip is open?” I yelled. “Which flip? Phone? Bluetooth? WHAT?!” “Command not recognized. Did you say, ‘Beans and weenies?’ ”

I feel much safer now with my Bluetooth. I know everyone else does, too. We’re all keeping the law as we narrowly careen around one another in death-defying destruction derbies. Maybe next they can invent something to help you drink your coffee while you drive down the road. I don't know….maybe a spigot right above your head could automatically pour boiling java all over you. You could lick at the drips while your skin falls off.


Copyright 2008

19 comments:

  1. Oh Robynn
    You made me laugh until I cried. Thanks for starting my day off with a good laugh. Keep them coming I really enjoy your rantings.
    Kathy Flores

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  2. Laughing my head off in Oklahoma. Relatives looking over my shoulder laughing too. You have spoken in a universal language that Alabamans, Okies, Kansans and Missourians understand. Your magnum opus. Well....at least until you write the next one.

    Lori Esau

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  3. Thank you, Kathy! I like to make my friends cry! :-)

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  4. Thank You, Lori! My, my...high praise indeed.

    It's scary to think there are others like ME but, those are my kind of people. Ask them to please bookmark me or join as followers and come back to visit even after you leave. If they like ding-bats, I don't think I'll disappoint them....!

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  5. Robynn, Robynn! "Legs hanging out the window" took 'em right out (Kaylee, Connor and Tim standing around while I read it) - and "did you say beans and weenies" put 'em over the edge! :-)
    Lori

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  6. So funny! I haven't gotten a hands free device yet..maybe I need to give it a second thought and just keep pulling over or wait until I have arrived at my desitnation. Isn't it that way with so many well meant laws...they just create more probelms than they are worth sometimes! Keep writing...

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  7. Hi - I'm dropping by. Got your link from PW. Okay - I've got tears rolling down my cheeks, and my sides are hurting from laughing so hard. This has got to be one of the funniest posts I've ever read. Thanks for making my day!

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  8. I was laughing while Randy was trying to talk on the phone... He thought I was following the antics of some teenagers on MySpace, but it was your accurate description of the safety features of our blueteeth! I can't wait to hear your diatribe on the new "no texting" law!!

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  9. Hi I'm dropping by too. I got your link from Neas Nuttiness, who got it from PW... and OMG, I'm LMAO so bad that my sides hurt!
    I was born and raised in SF, moved to Calaveras county for most of my adult life (before moving to Australia)... and my sister lives in Benecia.
    So I knew ALL about those roads you were talking about ! I ended up laughing so hard that I almost had to find a plastic bag to sit on... Oh, for a Depends, when I need one!

    I WILL be back !

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  10. Oh my, that is just too funny!

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  11. Came over here to see what was so funny. I heard all the laughing over there at Neas Nuttiness. This is too funny. I recognized all your roads because I live in Sonoma County. Used to use the Bay Bridge a lot. My brother used to live in Benica. Our car broke down in Los Banos one year. It was fun to read about areas that are familiar to me. I am following you now so I can catch future posts. Thank you for the stomach aching laugh today.

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  12. Oh man, that's funny. I know it's a law, but I consider it to be very stupid because of your aforementioned reasons, so I refuse to buy or use them. The cops in our small town will either be cool with that, or supremely mean about it, depending on which one I get. I don't buy lottery tickets, so I have to gamble somehow, right? That's what I figure, anyhoo.

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  13. funny, funny! thank heavens i am not techno savy! i think i will just hang on to my hand held phone as long as possible. it is not against the law yet here in utah! i'm afraid i will give up driving and chatting on the phone when it does!

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  14. I came over from A Joyful Chaos. Still giggling after reading your post. The artificial "intelligence" of these devices is enough to drive a sane (well, relatively sane) person mad.

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  15. I am still laughing so hard. Hope it is ok that, I am posting a link on my site to you. You are going to be my Funny Friday post. They will get such a kick out of this.
    I came over from Joyful Chaos.

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  16. So funny!!! So true!!! To add to your experience...I finally had to call my cousing "Laura L" (as she is listed in my contacts) and leave a message to apologize for all of the missed calls I was sure she had on her phone. It seems that "Laura L" is the default go-to for my phone when it doesn't fully understand what I'm saying...and it dials that number without asking for confirmation. (I was trying to call my SIL "Desha" (pronounced "Desh-uh")my "Voicemail" and my friend "Steph"...I can see how they all sound similar to "Laura L"...can't you?)

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  17. Joyful Chaos was right this is hilarious! I will be back to read more of your blog once I find a few more spare moments.

    Be safe out there! Ha.

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  18. Way late on this one, but hysterical! LOL I want one of those cars that sync up to your Bluetooth enabled phone, answer calls for you, turn off the radio, filter out screaming children, and allow you to drive with two hands on the wheel. They say it is out there... LOL

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  19. Hilarious! I came over from A Joyful Chaos. Looking at old posts. I think I'll have to follow you now.

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