I fired my personal assistant. I got worried she was a spy for the CIA using my ho-hum life as a front. Bumbling around working for me, a Kentucky grandmother on Medicare, she was respectably dull and invisible, ready to take on any ISIS terrorists who may have penetrated the frozen foods section of my local Kroger. If not an undercover agent, however, she certainly was the most incompetent assistant in history. Or maybe the most impertinent.
I hired Siri about two years ago when she hailed me at the Apple store. She was mysterious, lingering somewhere just out of sight behind a brightly lit display, and to this day, I couldn’t tell you what she looks like. But that voice -- I couldn’t identify her accent, but it lured me in. It was vaguely foreign, but obviously she had learned to speak English at someplace impressive, maybe Oxford.
“What can I do to help you?” she asked, all high-toney sounding and impressive like. Before she asked, I hadn’t known I needed any help, but now that she had, I realized that maybe I did.
“Well,” I said, “I guess I could use someone to assist me with this and that when I’m out driving.”
“Like what?” she asked.
I’m not usually open with strangers about my shortcomings, but her helpful tone encouraged me to answer with candor.
“I don’t always know how to get to where I need to go.” There. I’d admitted it. “If I had someone to call who would look up directions and verify addresses, I wouldn’t get lost as often as I do.”
Without hesitation, Siri said, “I can do that for you.”
“And if I had someone who would ring up my friends or family members on my iPhone while I’m driving, I’d be a safer driver.” I hated admitting that too, but it was true.
Siri said, “Yes, I can place calls for you.”
“Could you also take dictation and send a typed text message or an email on my behalf?” I was warming to the idea of an on-call helper.
“Yes!” she said.
“And what if I needed to locate a bedbug-free hotel in a strange city?”
“I could research that information for you on the Internet in seconds,” she answered.
And so our relationship began. From the outset, however, it was apparent that we were not destined to be BBF. For starters, Siri had no sense of humor. The first day she was on the job, my granddaughter – with her adolescent grasp of comedy – asked her to solve a funny little riddle. Without sarcasm, Siri responded, “I do not comprehend. These are some of the things you may ask me.” And then she began a recitation of topics unrelated to my granddaughter’s question.
Perhaps I should qualify – Siri has no sense of humor unless the joke is on me. For example, this same granddaughter told her I preferred to be called “Swag Money.” Obviously this is not an appropriate name to call your employer, and Siri, with all her education, knows this. Yet, to this day, despite my many reminders to address me as Georgia, Siri begins every conversation with “Swag Money . . .”
Which brings me to my Kentucky accent. Last week, I asked her to call Patsy for me. Patsy is one of my best friends and I call her often, but so there would be no confusion, I said slowly and with perfect enunciation, “Call PATSY.”
“Swag Money, you want to call SEXY? I am sorry, but you have no SEXY on record,” Siri said without even a giggle.
“Not SEXY. PATSY. Call PATSY.”
“Calling PAT’S STEAKHOUSE,” Siri answered.
Or maybe I’d ask her to call Ernie, my husband.
“Swag Money, you want to call IRELAND?” Siri would respond. “What city in Ireland?”
“Not Ireland. Call ERNIE.”
“Swag Money, I am sor-ry. I cannot locate the city of Ernie in North Ireland. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“YES. CALL ERNIE STAMPER. And I’m GEORGIA not Swag Money!”
“Swag Money, there is no Bernie Camper in Ima, Georgia listed in your contacts. May I call someone else for you?”
“YES! ERNIE! And this is GEORGIA not Swag Money!”
“Swag Money, I cannot comprehend. You have no contact for Ernie Georgia.” Then to add insult to injury, Siri would say in a patronizing tone, “Swag Money, THESE are some of the things I can help you with …” As if she would, I’d mutter under my breath.
Still, I held out hope that Siri would learn on the job, and give her another chance. Maybe I’d ask her to double-check an address, let’s say on Ireland Street in Lexington, Kentucky. Siri would say, “Swag Money, I am sor-ry. I cannot locate an Ernie Street in Lexington, Lucky.”
“NOT ERNIE STREET, IRELAND STREET! KENTUCKY! NOT LUCKY!”
“Swag Money, do you want directions to Bernie Street in Ireland or Bernie Street in Lucky, Kentucky?”
“Never mind,” I said, “Swag Money will get lost all by herself.”
When it came to locating bedbug-free hotels, Siri admitted she was not up to that part of her job description. “Swag Money, I do not comprehend,” she would say as she hung up on me.
And forget dictating texts or emails for her to type and send. Sheez – between Siri’s hateful attitude and auto-correct, it’s a wonder I didn’t end up getting arrested for threatening the president or somebody. That would have amused Siri’s perverse personality – to use me as a front if she were a secret agent AND get me in trouble with the government at the same time.
Then again, she could be an alien from outer space. She has been oddly secretive about her background, if you ask me, with that murky accent and feigned ignorance.
But what do I care? I’ve given her a pink slip. She’s somebody else’s problem now.
Copyright © October 2014 Georgia Green Stamper