Yes there’s definitely an edge to Sheila’s voice. This is not good, she’s normally patient, indefatigable, incredibly well informed, but when pushed, say with more or less constant changes or with being ignored, her voice takes on a decidedly pissy edge. You do not want to ignore this woman. You do so at your own peril. When pushed she often clams up or, with great ennui, she’ll say, “I’m just not able.” And that is that. You’re lost!
And another thing. That sexy Aussie accent, and I’m not sure it’s real, can cause serious confusion at the worst times. You should hear her try to pronounce Monongahela River. We often turn to each other and ask, “what did she just say?”
This trip has been hard on Sheila. You can’t just say, “no, Sheila, take us this way” or “Why do you demand that I go the worst way possible, insisting that I turn at every side street I pass?” One has to come at it from an oblique angle, or resort to trickery.
Now don’t misunderstand, she has found some of the most obscure biking trailheads, and most recently, marinas that don’t exist to the average citizen. Lately we’ve noticed she’s getting a little long in the tooth what with her decreased staying power and a data base that’s sure a Baskin-Robbins is in that empty storeroom.
It’s funny how we anthropomorphize machines that we have to interact with. Somehow, it seems to help. Sailors always name their autopilots. Some have even hallucinated old salts at the wheel on a stormy night watch.
We’re not that bad, but when Sheila says turn, we turn. When Sheila says make a legal U turn, we make a legal U turn. When Sheila says recalculating…we worry.
So give us a thought now and again as we stare into Sheila’s GPS screen, traveling from boat to boat. There’s got to be one out there.