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Afraid of an iPhone

October 20, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
We got rid of my wife’s old Plymouth that I had nicknamed Christine because it seemed to love her and hate me.

But Christine is back, in the form of a powder-blue iPhone 5C.

A few months back, just for fun, we ran Google Maps and Apple Maps together on a trip to a museum in Western Pennsylvania. My Motorola running Ms.Google adjusted for a closed bridge and detour. I think my brother’s phone is, four months later, out in Wichita telling him, “Turn around. Drive 1,023.6 miles east on I-70…” It just wouldn’t accept the closed bridge and seemed to have an existential crisis.

But my wife’s new phone’s Siri is alive. And snarky. And maybe it could turn homicidal.

The other night, my brother had used the word “schadenfreude” in a Facebook post response to my rant about people being awful when I got a truck stuck on the street.

Not being anywhere near as wise as my brother -- you’ll note they trust him to fix airplanes, not me -- I had The Boss ask her new Siri for the definition.

“Chardon Food. Food you get in Chardon, Ohio.”

The Boss tried again. Siri said, “Food from Schaden.”

I picked up Mr. Motorola Atrix, asked Google for the definition of schadenfreude and she immediately came out with, “Pleasure at someone else’s misfortune.”

The Boss attempted to ask Siri again, and before she could complete the question, Siri bellowed, “Stop. There is nothing to repeat.”

I figured maybe Siri was preoccupied. The Boss asked her phone, “Hey, are you watching Notre Dame or something?”

“I already have everything I need,” Siri replied.

I had The Boss ask Siri if she was being a smart***. Siri said, “Well, Kathy, I am still HERE for you.”

The Boss said, “Sorry, Siri, my husband made me ask that.”

Siri said, “It’s OK. Really.”

After we stopped laughing -- The Boss nearly in tears -- we asked Siri, “Open the pod bay doors, Siri,” an obvious “2001: A Space Odyssey” reference.

Siri said, “Say ‘pretty please.’”

After we marveled at what a smart aleck this Siri was being, The Boss asked, “Pretty please, open the pod bay doors, Siri.”

“That’s it,” said Siri. “I’m reporting you to the Intelligent Agents Union for harassment.”

Wow. A union phone!

We then asked Siri if she likes Google Voice.

“Oh, Kathleen,” she told The Boss. “I’m all Apple, all the time.”

Man, this thing has personality, and it’s a little scary.

So, just to stay on Siri’s good side, The Boss asked, “Siri, I think we need to go have a beer.”

“I found three bars close to you,” she said almost too quickly, listing Toronto taverns.

Kathy did not take Siri out for a beer, opting to watch Notre Dame because, well, obviously Kathy does not already have everything she needs.

I got a little worried that maybe Siri would access Kathy’s e-mail list and send nastygrams to everyone on it, or turn us in to the NSA.

I’m watching you, Siri. Me and Ms. Google Voice, the ever-efficient, no frills sidekick, who actually answers questions.

The iPhone sits there, all powder-blue and high-tech and innocent looking, plugged into its charger, for now.

Kathy told it, “My husband is afraid of you.” Siri replied, “Who, me?”

“Yes, isn’t that silly,” Kathy said. “Yes, that’s what I figured,” Siri said.

“Siri,” Kathy said, “You are a hoot. You provide comic relief.”

“I don’t really like these arbitrary categories, Kathleen” Siri said.

Meanwhile, from Denver, my sister's Siri wouldn't give my brother-in-law the Ohio State score. Ms. Google blurted it out, along with the date and time of the next game, against Penn State.

Methinks, you're too busy having personality to be a personal servant, Siri.

Or Stephen King had a hand in your design.


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