Recently, Craig and I finally dragged ourselves out of the technological Dark Ages by scrapping our flip-phones and buying slick new smartphones: shiny iPhone 6 Pluses. They are to our old phones what the Starship Enterprise is to a '69 Ford dump truck.
Oh, they're so pretty. Right there at the Sprint store, he bought a nice chunky purple protective case that looks like a tractor tire, but I didn't. I ordered mine online as I wanted something that would protect my new little treasure without destroying her pure white streamlined beauty and delicate balance in my hand. I also bought an elegant long stylus for tapping the ridiculously tiny letters and numbers, but then I still pretend I'm using a fountain pen when I'm holding a Bic.
Of course, we've barely put them down since and are trying to understand all the tricks they do. We're using bar-coded coupons and mobile ferry reservations, discovering apps and Googling around on the fly, then tapping Settings to try to figure out what the heck.
To be fair, I will admit Craig was the first to find Siri. Not being much of a typist, he is delighted by the power of voice command. "Call Cory," he'll say, and his son answers the phone. "Call Mom," and there's Mom, always happy to hear from us and fill us in on the latest Missouri weather and whether her arthritis is acting up due to imminent rain.
"Take me to the nearest Michael's store!" he'll say, when we're out driving around and he's in need of another canvas or three.
And there's the glitch.
Siri is conscientious but not always accurate. In reply to requests such as his, she will often provide a list of possible destinations that are entirely irrelevant and sometimes in a different state. Her directions, too, are suspect. When I was in Florida recently, she insisted that I turn north to get to St. Petersburg when I knew for a fact it was south. She objected, I might even say "whined", when I took the southbound entrance to Hiway 19 agains her explicit incorrect instructions. Then she dropped me in front of a building in which the business I was seeking had not been headquartered for years.
So I don't trust her as Craig does. I call her his ditzy secretary. Which she is. She is often confused. The only thing she always seems to get right is where the nearest marijuana store is.
She even flirts with him. Seriously. "Whatever you say, Craig." "I'm sorry Craig, I'm sure you're right." Things like that. The other day she overheard him saying "I love you" to me and said, "Oh, that's sweet, Craig," so now she's even worse and who knows what she's planning.
A few weeks ago, fed up with her simpering, I traded her in on my phone for the British Male Voice which I found under Settings: General: Siri: Siri Voice. I named him Alfred. He has this melodic English accent and is agreeable but not obsequious. He even pronounces words in the English style, which is so charming. He is slightly formal and dresses nicely, with horn-rimmed glasses and a pressed dress shirt. He shows up instantly when needed carrying a clipboard and a pen and gets right on whatever it is I require of him.
Sometimes in the car when Craig calls for Siri's assistance, I get on with Alfred. We pit them against each other. In my opinion, Alfred usually wins, quickly and efficiently finding the nearest Dollar General so we can buy sunglasses and Whoppers and a little plastic box with Cookie Monster on the lid for all the marijuana Siri finds for Craig.
I'm sure the contest will continue as we discover better and more obscure questions for Siri and Alfred to answer to the best of their respective abilities. I know who I'd bet on if I were you. I'll be sure to keep you posted, of course.
"Alfred! Take a letter."