May 102018
 

Have you ever wondered if inanimate objects may possibly be sentient? Ever since I saw Disney’s The Love Bug in which Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle exhibits sentience, I’ve been a believer. I treat my MacBook Pro like a member of my household rather than as a piece of equipment. I talk sweetly to it and never cuss at it should something go wrong. I know it’s not my Mac’s fault. It’s usually my fault, Apple’s fault, or our Internet Provider’s fault. MG on the other hand frequently cusses out his MacBook Pro, his iPad, and his iPhone. They all despise him and give him a ration of grief on a regular basis. As MG’s resident tech support, I have to fix everything and convince them all to forgive him.

Herbie isn’t the only automobile to exhibit sentience. My friend and writing bud Margo Hoornstra is convinced that Majel, my Ford Edge, doesn’t like her. Now Margo is a very likeable lady, yet Majel misbehaves when Margo is aboard. I’ve assured Margo it is mere coincidence.

You see, last year at the Mid-Michigan RWA (MMRWA) Retreat From Harsh Reality, Majel wouldn’t start when we tried to return to Shelbyville after running errands in a nearby town. Fortunately, we were rescued by a knight in shining armor. Majel started up and we got Margo back to the Bay Pointe Inn in time for dinner and for her to receive the MMRWA Angel Award that I managed to keep secret from her.

At Retreat this year, Majel appeared to be behaving like a proper lady. She got us to the Bay Pointe Inn with no difficulty on Friday afternoon, although she took us there on a different route than last year. Majel stayed put in her parking space during the entire weekend, but there was one unusual incident. On Friday night, another chapter member asked me if the burgundy Ford Edge was mine. (Actually, Majel’s color is Bordeaux. I mention that in the event Majel gets wind of this post. She would be very put out if I didn’t post the clarification.) I said yes, the Edge was mine. She informed me that the rear cargo door was up. Oh? I knew I closed it after Margo and I removed all our luggage and other gear when we arrived. Hmmm. I went out, I checked Majel over to make certain nothing was missing, and I dropped the door. I made sure it was down and secure, and then I locked Majel up for the weekend.

After another fabulous Retreat, Margo and I packed our luggage and the additional items we acquired at Retreat in Majel’s cargo area, and we pulled out of the Inn’s parking lot. Oddly, Majel started us out on a different return route to Margo’s place. It became apparent soon enough that the route was unfamiliar. Even though both Margo and I have no sense of direction, we did not panic. Looking back, we realized that this was a mistake. We should have panicked.

We both had iPhones with Maps and other GPS apps. That gave us a false sense of security. Margo got her iPhone out and started up a GPS app to verify Majel’s directions.I believe that’s what pushed Majel’s hood out of joint.

Immediately, Margo’s GPS app disagreed with Majel’s.  Uh-Oh. Were we going the wrong way? Do we go straight or do we turn right? We couldn’t be sure. I was the driver, so I made a command decision. We would follow Majel’s route until we could be certain it wasn’t correct.

After a few minutes, Margo’s iPhone directions agreed with Majel’s. Okay, we thought. We’re going the right way! Yay!

Not so fast. At the next intersection, the GPS apps disagreed once again. This time, we gave Margo’s iPhone app the benefit of the doubt. We didn’t turn onto a major road. We went straight—and the road’s pavement ended not far from the intersection and we were on messy, grimy, dusty dirt. Being second-guessed by another GPS was insult enough for Majel. Having to eat dirt should have made her furious enough to seek revenge. Surprisingly Majel agreed with Margo’s iPhone app from then on.

Margo’s iPhone app took us on a long, drawn out tour of Southwest Michigan’s back roads. We were into an hour or more of driving home from Retreat and had no idea where the blazes we were at any given time. Every turn we were instructed to make was a wrong turn. Every legal U-Turn we were instructed to make was a wrong turn. Majel, the little stinker, agreed to every single one.

Luckily, we had a full tank of gas because we were becoming concerned that our families would never see us again. We had yet to have lunch and we were growing hungry. Fortunately, we had some snack food with us. We scarfed down the snacks that might possibly be our last meal, all the while hoping a Burger King would magically appear.

At last, to our great relief, Margo recognized the name of a road that would get us to her home: Vermontville Highway. From that point on, we ignored both GPS devices.

Once we were no longer dependent on our GPS devices, Margo and I conducted a postmortem of our misadventure. We concluded that the two GPS devices were angry that we consulted more than one of them. They conspired to seek revenge on us by getting us lost and striking fear into our hearts.

If you’re willing to believe as I do that this sort of thing is possible, I’m here to say they made a very thorough job of it.

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