Here is the normal way I get into a car: I open the door. I sit down. I adjust the seat. I check the mirrors. And then I silence the navigation system voice for all eternity.
This might surprise some of you, because the navigation system voice is just there to help. “TURN LEFT ON TO INTERSTATE. SEVENTY.” she says, in this robotic tone that makes her sound like the ultimate authority on directional matters. But I want her gone. Or him. I’m not sexist, when it comes to the navigation system voice. I just want it silenced like a heckling father at a child’s soccer game.
Why do I want this poor, helpful navigation voice gone so badly? I’ll tell you why: because it is incredibly annoying. If you were to draw up a list of the most annoying things in today’s society, the navigation voice would be a “Tier 1” annoyance, right up there with people who block the stairs to have conversations.
Allow me to explain my position.
You’re in the car, cruising along, doing what you normally do when you’re in the car, which is listen to as much Jimmy Eat World discography as you can squeeze into a single ride. And as you’re sitting there, singing along, the navigation system voice pipes up.
“TURN LEFT ON TO. EAST. COOPER. AVENUE.”
Uh, excuse me? Did I say you could turn down my music?
Let’s be honest: if a passenger did this without my consent, they would get a stern lecture, possibly with a raised voice. And they would have to write a letter of apology to each and every member of Jimmy Eat World.
Some navigation systems are worse than others. I once had a navigation system that would tell you to “stay” on streets where you could accidentally split off, if you were a complete brainless idiot who had never previously guided an automobile down public roads before. So what would happen is, you’d be driving along, singing “The Middle” at a louder volume than even the concert speakers play it, and you’d be interrupted.
“STAY ON. HIGHWAY 82. NORTH.”
In this case, the navigation voice wasn’t even interrupting my music to ask me to turn. She was interrupting my music to tell me to keep going.
And it isn’t just about music. I could be cruising along, engaged in a vigorous debate with my passengers about a serious, important topic, such as the height of the Easter Bunny, when I would find myself rudely interrupted by the navigation system lady.
“TURN LEFT ON. EAST. DURANT. AVENUE.”
These handheld navigation systems aren’t really any better. I was an in Uber the other day, and the guy had the app’s navigation voice up so loud that people in Moldova were thinking they had to turn left on to New Jersey Route 487. Except they didn’t understand what it meant, so, being in Moldova, they just went outside and killed some livestock.
Another major reason why I hate these navigation system voices is because you don’t actually need them.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you need to go somewhere you haven’t been before, such as a new friend’s house, or an unfamiliar neighborhood, or an iceberg. So you type the address into your navigation system, and you mute the voice, and guess what? The system still guides you to your destination. This is like back when we had maps, and they didn’t talk to you, and they didn’t inform you of traffic problems. They just sat there, and you kind of guessed how far it was until your exit.
Now, I’ve used this “mute the navigation system voice” strategy for several years, and I admit there are a few times where I’ve been led astray. There have been a few moments, over the past few years, when I’ve looked down to discover that I didn’t notice I should’ve turned a few streets ago, and now I was quickly heading into the part of town people call “up and coming,” in the sense that crack dens have been totally wiped out and replaced with meth houses.
So yeah, OK, maybe I’ve been a few minutes late to a few things over the years. But at least I’ve belted out an entire uninterrupted set list before I arrived.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.