Light Notes

Meet our new rude travel companion -- Gertrude

RICHLAND -- We’ve added another backseat driver. And quite frankly, she’s not very polite.

Why, just the other day, Gertrude — Gertie, for short — interrupted my cell phone chat half a dozen times to haughtily tell me that I wasn’t driving the direction she thought I should go.

I knew better.

“Who’s in the car with you?” my daughter, Tiffany, asked after the first verbal intrusion. “I thought you were alone.”

“Don’t pay any attention,” I shouted above another of Gertie’s demanding disruptions. “It’s that GPS your Dad rushed out to buy after we got lost in Seattle last month.”

I’d given the global positioning system the name of "Gertrude" within the first nanosecond she was plugged into our life. Gracie just didn’t seem to fit.

“Boy!” Tiffany exclaimed. “Even when I was reading the map in the backseat and feeling carsick, I didn’t sound that cranky.”

True. But Tiffany did suck air.

Gertie doesn’t do that — at least not yet — although I can hear the huffy tone in her voice.

“Recalculating directions!” she informs in her military voice. “Recalculating directions! Turn left in 1.8 miles!”

Not sweet. Not soothing. Just plain bossy.

And now that Gertie is our constant travel companion, her orders are most often directed at my husband, Bill. He’s the driver on our trips out of town.

This gives me time off from backseat driving.

In some odd way, this techno-gadget’s way of annoying Bill is a tiny bit comforting. He has always considered me the ultimate backseat driver, complete with groans, sighs, and “I can’t believe you missed that turnoff!”

Believe me. My advice over the years has greeted him at every turn.

But Gertie isn’t taking a backseat to anyone. Like a mother-in-law — or spouse — you wish you’d left home, her harsh voice can collide with any quiet drive time or conversation.

Turn here. Turn there. Her demanding barrage is endless.

Honestly, her tirade has me worried. Bill’s self-esteem has never been so low.

Still, as backseat drivers go, it could be worse. At least Bill can turn Gertie off.