In the good old days, you just got into the car and drove. If you had boy scout training, you checked a map before you left the house. Waze was invented for people like me. My children are scattered around Israel, so driving to see them can be a challenge. Has anyone else noticed how impatient Israeli drivers can be, or is it just me?
When I downloaded the app, I chose a woman’s voice. No more snide males making comments about my driving with a roadmap flapping in his face. I wanted an empowering voice to talk me through the highways, “You go, girl!” I give her a name. Wanda. Wanda Waze. A calm soothing voice, telling me where to get off the highway, where the speed traps are, and whispering the sweetest words of all, “You have arrived at your destination.”
Wanda works overtime, sometimes even while I’m walking. Once I forgot to turn off the app before I left the car, and was shopping in the Mahaneh Yehudah market. Suddenly I heard a voice, “Caution. Police ahead.” I looked up and sure enough there were two cops standing right in front of me at a falafel stand.
One day I was going to visit the grandchildren. Alone. On Route 6.
“Talk to me, Wanda,” I say, as I put the key in the ignition.
“Let’s get started,” she answers. We get started. As long as I am going straight, everything is fine. But then my love/hate relationship with Wanda begins.
“In 200 meters turn left,” Wanda says in a sweet voice.
“In 100 meters turn left,” she reminds me pleasantly.
Me: “Here? At this intersection? Now?”
Wanda: “Right here, honey.” I make a left. “Nice going.”
Whoa! Did she really answer me? I mean, it really answer me?
“Can you hear me?” I ask, hesitantly.
“Of course, that’s what I’m here for,” she answers. “Watch that truck on your right. At the traffic circle in 200 meters continue straight.”
“Quick question? How long is 200 meters? I know how long it takes me to swim 200 meters, but to drive? Do I have to measure it with a ruler?”
Wanda laughs, “We estimate.”
We continue swimmingly for the next few kilometers. I turn off Route 6 at the right place and we approach the city. Then Wanda tells me to continue straight. I make a right.
Wanda: “What did you do that for? I told you to go straight!” She sounds annoyed.
Me: “I am not going through the city. You’ve got to be crazy to drive through the city during rush hour.”
Wanda: “Are you calling me crazy? I know what I’m doing.”
I stop at a red light in a big intersection. “Which way, Wanda?”
“Wanda?” Cars are beginning to line up behind me.
I hear a car honk. “WANDA!” The light has changed.
A hurt silence. The cars behind me are all honking now.
“You seem so sure of yourself, you decide,” she sniffs. It sounds like she’s crying.
“Are you insulted?” I quickly decide to turn right. The light has changed again and all the cars behind me are stuck. I pull into an adjacent bus stop. “Wanda? I’m sorry. I really need you, Wanda. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I just didn’t want to drive through the center of town.” A frosty silence follows. She is not talking to me anymore. Luckily I know my way from here.
“You have arrived at your destination,” she says stiffly as I turn into the parking lot.
The visit with the grandchildren was fun, but something was gnawing away at my insides. I feel bad about Wanda.
On the way home, I turn on Waze and hear a man’s voice.
“Hey, what happened to Wanda?”
“She refuses to work with you anymore.” He laughs snidely. “Let’s get started, shall we? Pull out of the parking lot and make a right… and try not to hit the fire hydrant.”
Happy Purim, everyone! Drive safe!