My husband Jon and I have fallen for the same woman. Her name is Amy.
Or at least that’s the name the Waze app gives her in Voice Settings. We just call her Missy Waze.
It wasn’t love at first sight. Our son Jay tried to introduce her to us over a year ago, raving about her many assets. But we had our Google maps on our phones and our Garmin GPS system in the glove compartment. We certainly weren’t going to fall for some flashy newcomer taken up by hip Brooklyn Millennials.
Then on a trip to visit a friend in Connecticut, Google Maps let us down, sending us through quite lovely but quite incorrect streets in Greenwich and making us late. On arrival we complained about Google Maps’ failings. My friend grabbed her iPhone and cried, “You’ve got to get this Waze app! It never makes mistakes!” She proceeded to run through the app’s various charms.
Here was a serious person, my college roommate, a grown-up, enamored of the app. We downloaded it, found Amy, and invited her to join us for the journey home. While it was handy to get her alerts — police (visible or not) and the occasional “Watch out! Hazard ahead!” — we weren’t impressed with the routes she chose. A couple of times we thought she was just being ditzy, so we ignored her.
Back in his office, Jon discovered more Waze worshippers. One said, “Don’t second-guess her. Give yourself up to her. You’ll see!”
So we gave Missy another shot, and it’s been working out. She takes us on roads we never knew existed, saving tons of time on trips short and long. She tells us how long we’ll be in traffic. She keeps an eye out for accidents on I-95, steering us around them with a cheerful burble of beeps before she issues a firm directive to “Exit right!”
Now we both just let Missy Waze have her ways with us.
She was particularly helpful when I had to do a 500-mile trip from Philadelphia to the unknown territory of Norway, Maine, with a stop in Boston to pick up daughter Annie, embarking on her medical school clinical training.
After the streets of Boston, the trip to Norway was pretty straightforward. Nevertheless, I was loath to part from Missy Waze, who had so ably rewarded my devotion on the first leg. But Annie was not smitten. As Missy Waze directed us toward Main Street — Norway has only two streets — Annie gave me a sideways glance, part dismay and part disdain, and said, “Don’t you think you’re getting a little too dependent?”
I had a flashback to the summer of ’62. My dad loaded our family of six into the car, and we headed off from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, for a four-week drive to see America. In and out of big cities: Chicago, Denver, San Francisco. Across great plains and painted deserts. Up into the Grand Teton Mountains. Routes chosen by studying thick AAA guide books and sheaves of folding maps. The closest thing to a satellite network was the spooky space music of “Telstar” on the Top 10. Driving days in 1962 were different. Every day an adventure. Even a wrong turn could make a good story. The “romance” of the open road.
Wait! I was only nine at the time! I had no idea what anxiety my mother might have felt when cruising through the middle of Nebraska without a clue as to where the next gas station might be. I have no idea how many evenings my father spent poring over maps when he might have preferred pouring a nightcap in the hotel’s lounge. I have no idea how they coped when, every day for 28 days, they could give no sure answer to the perpetual backseat barrage: “How much farther? When we will get there? Where are we eating?”
No thanks. Missy Waze is romance enough for us.