Her voice goes through me like fingernails on a chalkboard. She is bossy and demanding and my husband hangs on her every word.
She is the robochick inside the GPS system in my husband's truck.
I had the pleasure of spending the weekend listening to her bark directions at us not long ago when we traveled to Northern California. Perhaps it is my strict German upbringing, but after every harsh command that she would give, "Keep left!", "Drive 30 miles!", I just kept waiting for her to include the simple pleasantry that never came - that useful, always welcome, friendly word - "please."
Instead it was the constant droning of orders in her harsh, halting voice.
If you dared to think you had a better way to go, and you did not follow her directions, her tone would get harsher and her demands more emphatic. "Make a U-turn NOW!"
Heaven forbid you decided to continue on your own rebel path. If you listened closely, it's almost as if you could hear her sigh in disgust.
Then she would start repeating her demands more frequently, as if the sheer irritation of the repetition could make you cave in. When you don't think you can take her reprimanding nagging any more, the satellite reconfigures and she starts barking orders again for the new path that she has determined you must follow.
It could be worse.
The iXs Research Corporation in Japan has invented a GPS system that not only will get you to your destination, it likely will give you nightmares for weeks.
They have created a talking GPS teddy bear with six joints in its neck and arms. While he tells you where to go, his furry little paw will then slowly point in that direction as his head swivels to-and-fro. Rub the top of his fuzzy little robotic cranium and he will also give you information about local landmarks.
But wait, there's more. Teddy has a built-in alcohol sensor. Enter the vehicle with beer on your breath and the bear will ask you what you have been up to before you entered the vehicle.
The next time we travel, I think I'll just print out a page or two from Mapquest and sit back for a nice, peaceful ride.
Michelle Pearl is a longtime traffic-school instructor and the owner of InterActive Traffic School Online, www.trafficinteractive.com. Send questions to email@example.com or write to DriveTime, c/o the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, PO Box 4000, Ontario, CA 91761. Some reader questions will be answered in print.