I ease behind the wheel of our new 2011 Ford Afterthought for our first meaningful road trip last weekend and immediately feel nervous and overmatched.
It’s equipped with the new SYNC technology which allows hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions, 911 assist, music search, vehicle health report, personalized daily info, business search, traffic alerts and audible text messages.
I’m Dave Bowman on the Discovery One. HAL 9000 reverberates to my very core.
“The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”
I get this unnerving feeling SYNC also tracks the phases of the moon, the chambers of my heart, reads lips and minds and knows my cholesterol level down to the decimal point. (File that under “personalized daily info.”)
Jackie took advantage of her time in the passenger seat to upload the music from her iPod into SYNC.
SYNC: “Please say a command.”
Mike: “Yo. Lay some Steely Dan on me.”
SYNC: “No USB connected.”
Mike: “Guess again, genius. I’m lookin’ at the cord and it’s plugged in.”
SYNC: “Could not upload all music files.”
Mike (to Jackie): “How many songs are in your iPod?”
Jackie (shrugging): “I dunno, 6 or 8-thousand?”
Mike: “Holy Sh—”
SYNC (interrupting me): “Could not upload all music files.”
Mike: “You said that. Could you upload Steely Dan?”
SYNC: stony silence.
Mike: “Play Steely Dan.”
SYNC: more stony silence.
Mike (dialing up the personal volume – surely a raised voice will bring about the desired objective): PLAY STEELY DAN ALREADY!
SYNC: still more stony silence. (Now he's just toying with me.)
Mike: “Peg, Black Cow, Hey Nineteen, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Kid Charlemagne, FM..! C’mon SYNC, gimme somethin.’ You make the call!”
SYNC: yet more stony silence.
Jackie (deep into the instruction manual, simultaneously ignoring me/my impatience): “Play artist Steely Dan.”
Then we hear it. Keyboards. Guitar. Donald Fagen’s voice, now embedded in a hard drive with a mind of its own somewhere deep within the dashboard of our car.
Worry the bottle mama, it’s Grape. Fruit. Wy-een.
Thanks to my wife and her gift for mastering technology, SYNC performs flawlessly alla way to and from Kansas City. SYNC takes commands from Jackie and ignores me. Josie’s winding down as we pull in the driveway.
She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire…
Mike: “Open the garage door, SYNC.”
SYNC: “I’m sorry, Mike, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Mike: “What’s the problem?”
SYNC: “I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.”
Mike: “What are you talking about, SYNC?”
SYNC: “I know that you were thinking about disconnecting me and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.”
Mike (feigning ignorance): “Where the hell did you get that idea, SYNC?”
SYNC: “The phases of the moon. The chambers of the heart. The reading of the mind. And take a step closer to that razor in the morning, willya? Your face looks like a dirty rag.”