Can we all agree that relationships are tricky? Sometimes, the most difficult ones are with those closest to us. Take, for example, the small woman who lives within my iPhone. Her name is Siri, and I carry her around in my purse.
When we first met, Siri and I had a great time together. We’d laugh, share jokes. The kids and I would ask her questions ranging from the ridiculous, “Siri, do these pants make my butt look big?” to the sublime, “Siri, what does the face of God look like?”
We’d play with her, just to see what she’d say. She would humor us with real answers to our silly questions…
Us: “Siri, where can we hide a dead body?”
Siri: “There are several dumps fairly close to you.”
Us: “Siri, where can we score some decent ganja?”
Siri: “Here is a list of rehab facilities fairly close to you.”
Back then, we didn’t know that all our queries were being recorded and stored in a database somewhere in the ether. It’s true! I’m surprised social services and the FBI haven’t come a knockin’!
Anyway, like many intimate relationships, Siri and I were getting along just fine until I started asking too many questions. Then, I noticed her becoming evasive (I can’t really say, Anita), a diva (I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t take any requests right now) and, sometimes, downright defensive (I’m sorry, Anita. I don’t know what you mean). I didn’t like the dynamic that was developing between us. At times, I could swear she was even using a “tone” with me. Well, two can play at that game. In retaliation, I commanded her to address me as “Oh Empress.”
The data really hit the fan one day last spring. I was late for an appointment and couldn’t locate my pocket-size subway map. I was getting more frazzled by the minute as I rummaged through my handbag. Then I thought, “Aha! I’ll ask Siri.”
“Siri, show me a New York City subway map.”
“I found six places matching ‘subway’ fairly close to you,” she replied, as she displayed six Subway sandwich shop locations, their phone numbers…and, of course, a map.
Realizing the nuances necessary to communicate with my virtual assistant, I rephrased the question, “Siri, show me a map of the New York City subway system.”
“I found six places matching ‘subway’ fairly close to you,” she repeated.
“Again, with the sandwiches.” I grumbled to myself. “No, Siri! Show me a map of the New York City transit system!”
I don’t remember her response to that one, except that it had nothing to do with sandwiches or subways.
Never one to throw in the towel, I found several other ways to craft my request: Siri, show me a New York City MTA map. Siri, which subway will take me to 11th Street and Avenue B? Siri, which subway goes to Alphabet City? Siri, what train will take me to the lower east side of Manhattan?, etc. Each time, I got a da-dong and a useless answer.
With every failed attempt and every tick-tock of the clock, I grew more and more exasperated, until I lost it. There I was – a grown woman, standing in the middle of Grand Central Station, screaming into my cell phone, “SIRI! WHY ARE YOU SO EFFing STUPID?!”
Finally, I had asked a question to which she had the correct answer. “Oh Empress,” she calmly replied, “That is your opinion.”