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.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
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?’ ”
BT: “Did you say ‘Howdy Dooty?’ ”
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.