If you have a car that is an older model, you won’t have the pleasure of bluetooth technology.  In other words, you don’t have a computer dialing for you.  Some days that is very good thing!

From this point on, I will refer to the system in my car that is my hands free, voice recognition telephone handler as Phoebe – which comes from my acronym PB which stands for Phone Bitch. The company that made her did not tell me that she had a name, so to me and all my friends she is Pheobe.

First, you have to train the system to your voice.  You do this by sitting in the car and talking back to prompts. There is no book for this because cars now come with CDs. What they give you is more a pamphlet than owner’s manual. You get very sketchy information, just enough to get you pointed in the general direction of what you need to know.  Unless you sit in the front seat with the CD in your laptop, you are pretty much like Lewis and Clark, traveling in foreign territory without a map.

You are asked for the name of the phone.  I don’t know about you, I name a lot of inanimate objects in my life, but not my phones.  Thinking that there was some internal programming that would kick in to help me, I said the brand of the phone that I am using.  I had no idea that every time I hit the phone button from that moment on, I was going to hear my semi-shocked voice saying Samsung back at me.

You add each person’s name and phone number.  Then you say whether this is a home number, a mobile number or a work number. Sounds simple?   I was in my garage doing this for nearly an hour.  My garage is equipped with motion sensing lights, so that I would not waste electricity.  If you sit inside the car, the light sensors do not see the motions you make.  So, after the first five minutes, I was in the dark.  Every five minutes on the five minutes I had to open the car door and wave my hand wildly so the lights would come back on.

After the door flaps and hand waves, I was finished and ready for my first phone call.  I asked the female phone voice to call my husband who was in the house enjoying a television program.  I hit the phone button.

Samsung??”  it said in my bewildered voice, quickly followed by a definitive phrase in the Phoebe’s voice, “IS READY!!”

The effect of this greeting is the embodiment of the definition of an oxymoron.  My voice is unsure and tentative, Phoebe is perky and confident. At this point, she had no name. She only had a twinge of a perky personality.  But in short order she was on her way to becoming a sci-fi entity in my life and earning her name.

Seems that I had taken too long to answer her, so she went through all the options she was willing to do for me.  I temped down my annoyance and listened.

“Options are call, emergency, towing assistance or menu”

Proudly, I asked her to call.    “Call Frank.”   I said calmly.

However, I did not wait politely for her beep, the signal that she was ready to listen.  I did not KNOW that there was a beep protocol that must be adhered to for success with Phoebe.  She repeated my options back to me because she hadn’t heard me.  In the middle I tried to stop her litany by saying in a louder, more insistent voice  “Call”.  That did not work.

Now, SHE was going to train me.  Phoebe is programmed to verify every command before she executes it.  So in her passive aggressive manner, she replied.

“Call 50? Is this correct?”

My hubsand, Frank has been retired from the police department for a long time.  I wondered how did she get both ghetto and clairvoyant at the same time?

“No, NO, Not the police department, Call Frank.”  I thought that would be simple enough.  There were only a dozen phone numbers in the system.  None of which contained the numbers 5 or 0 in that order.

“Call Emergency Assistance? Is that correct?”

He is my emergency assistance, loving husband and the backup of my life, but there was no way for her to know that.  She was becoming annoying.

“No, No, NO!”  I said.  “Call HOME”

Finally, she recognized something I said.  She retorted with her verification.

“Calling Home.  Do you want to call home at HOME or MOBILE?”

“Home, honeychile, HOME!”

“Honeychild is not found.  Do you want to call home at home or Mobile?”

“Home.”  I say slightly defeated.

“Do you want to call home at home or Mobile?”


“Option not understood.  Calling Emergency Assistance.”

On the LDC panel of my radio, which she turns off and displays the number you are calling, flashed 911.

I pressed the off button quickly, but not quickly enough. So I turned off the ignition and the radio at the same time, hoping to disconnect her.  I was not quick enough.  I forgot I was dealing in the nano-second territory, but I thought I was fast.  As I opened the door and waved my hands for the last time, my cell phone in my pocket rang.  The number was listed as an unknown suburban number.  I live four blocks from the city limits and have quite a few friends in the burbs, so I answered it.

“Hello, this is the B**** Police Department calling.  We got an emergency call from you car phone system, do you need us to dispatch a unit to your location, please just say yes or no.”

“No, definitely not.  I’m in the city, parked in my garage and I’m not in danger.”

“Are you alone ma’am?”

“Yes, I am.  Thank you for your concern.  I’m was trying to program my new car phone system.”

“Ohh, Yes, I see. We get a few of those calls every week. If you disconnect from 911  before we have a chance to to talk with you, we assume you are being kidnapped. You are not being kidnapped are you ma’am?”

“Goodness no.  I am not being kidnapped.  Hijacked by technology, but definately not kidnapped.  Thank you for calling to check.”

“Sorry to trouble you ma’am.”

“No bother at all, thank you for calling me. I’m sorry to take up your time on a false alarm.”

“It’s my job ma’am.  Be safe.”

Hanging up, I was upset.  Out of my mouth came Phone Bitch for the first time.  Although she hasn’t called the police on me again, she still doesn’t understand what I say half the time. SO she will be Phoebe until I trade her in. And now if you hear me talking about what a witch Phoebe is, you will know she is not my nosy neighbor or a busy body friend, she is the woman in that lives in the dashboard of my car and runs my personal switchboard.




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