Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Siri Would Catch That

Could I visit a Quantas crew member at the Marriott in Costa Mesa, asked the answering service at one a.m. Costa Mesa is fifty miles away, but the local doctor had just been there and didn’t want to go back.

I don’t work for nothing or keep office hours, so I have no objection to long drives during the wee hours. Unfortunately, the San Diego freeway, the major route to Orange County, closes at 11 p.m. for major construction at the San Gabriel interchange. You might think that this requires a modest detour, but closing the San Diego freeway, even at 2 a.m., produces an immense backup as it contracts to one lane leading to the exit. That’s followed by a long, slow drive through city streets.

Several aggravating experiences have persuaded me to take an alternate route through downtown and the Santa Ana freeway, a bumpy truck route and ten miles longer. After driving fifteen miles, I was dismayed to discover that the Santa Ana Freeway was also temporarily closed, a fact not revealed on my computer's Google Maps.

I followed the orange cones onto Washington Boulevard, a major street that intercepts the freeway further on. It was a deserted industrial area with little traffic, but I grew increasingly uneasy as the miles flew by with no freeway in sight. Pulling over, I consulted my ancient Thomas guide which revealed that I had turned the wrong way on Washington Boulevard and driven five miles back toward downtown.

“Siri would have caught that,” my wife pointed out later. Siri, of course, is Apple’s computer voice that recites your route on the I-phone GPS. She has proved valuable on vacations despite the occasional glitch. If you wander off course, Siri immediately recalculates it and tells you how to get back.

Thirty years of making housecalls has convinced me that I know everything about driving Los Angeles streets, a confidence not shaken by the rare occasion when I get lost. There’s an I-phone in my future.

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