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A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac

Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.

Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. July / August 2008

Like most Mercedes Maniacs, Ernie is into technical stuff. After all it is the fine engineering that brought him to the Mercedes in the second place. The first place was a mentor who was also into Mercedes. Being of a technical nature, the Mercedes Maniac is drawn to any new gadget that comes along. The GPS system is one of the more recent must have gadgets for the techno crowd.

Before we went on the Route 66 tour, Ernie got a portable GPS system to help us on our way. Griselda P. Snodgrass rode the whole route perched in her bean bag throne on the dashboard. A friend of ours who doesn't have GPS was snickering at the idea of naming it, but another friend said he understood. He and his wife were traveling in a rental car that had a GPS system and before long were referring to it as “she.”

According to some sources the systems are given women's voices because they are more soothing and less threatening than a man's. No kidding. Many of us can relate to that. Many is the time we have “soothed” the men in our life from an automatic “yes, Dear” to a resounding “ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.” The truth is men don't generally listen to women, especially about directions, thus the men stay calm, unless, they tune in and decide women don't know what they are talking about. Then they argue.

Ernie spent most of the trip arguing with Griselda, particularly after she misled us in Flagstaff. She kept sending us down a dead end road. We finally asked her to find the road we were supposed to be on before the one she obviously couldn't find. That worked just fine. It did result in Ernie losing faith in her, though. Not that he had much to begin with.

On a trip back from Martinsville, Virginia with our friends Mike and Sharon, the boys decided to go up Skyline Drive and avoid Washington, D.C. They assured us this would be shorter. Mike was driving and Ernie was navigating. Griselda was putting her two cents worth in as well. After we turned east, she kept telling Mike to take a left. Ernie would say “Keep going. She doesn't know what she's talking about.”

That left turn would take us north; Ernie's route was taking us straight to D.C. Griselda won the argument just in time. The “short cut” only added a few hours to the trip. Still, when Mike got his own GPS, he was a little leery about trusting her. While he's not sure about her accuracy on a long trip, he's thrilled that she can find all the Red Lobsters in a given area.

In talking to other people with GPS Systems, I have found out that we are not alone. One woman told me that her husband argued with or totally ignored “Gladys” until they switched the voice to that of a man. My friend says her husband will listen to the newly christened “Gus”.

Another woman said she didn't know why her husband bothered to get the GPS because he doesn't listen to it. When it was pointed out to her that it is a gadget and therefore a must have, even if it doesn't get used, she nodded, “Of course.”

One man I know faithfully turns his GPS on but doesn't program it. Basically the GPS is relegated to showing him where he is, silently. He told me he doesn't want her “making noise.”

Another man actually admitted to me that he never pays attention to his GPS system. “She doesn't know where she is going,” he said quietly, as if he were afraid she might hear.

If Ernie doesn't listen to Griselda, our son Mark antagonizes her. We were on our way back from Farberallye with Ernie, Griselda and me in the front seat and Mark and Becky in the back. We asked Griselda to get us to Mark and Becky's in the shortest time. Mark decided to contradict her instructions and take us the most direct route, which was not the same thing. Guess who Ernie listened to? Griselda kept “re-calculating” and finally gave up. “A better route is available,” she said firmly. I had never heard that one before. I reached over and patted her on the “head”. She was really getting hot. As women, Becky and I knew exactly how she felt.

“Mark, you'd better cut it out, or she's really going to get angry,” Becky warned. His comment that it was just a dumb machine didn't impress us. After all, he was the one chortling with glee every time he deviated from Griselda's course.

The other night we were driving through the city of Cambridge, Mass following Griselda's instructions. She led us down Massachusetts Avenue which was the shortest route to the theater. Ernie got peeved at all the stop lights.

“I guess she doesn't take traffic lights into consideration,” he said, once more certain that he could have found a better route, if one were available. .

Still, I'm glad the men in my life question her. At least I know they are thinking, which is more than I can say for the man who took a right turn onto a railroad track only to narrowly escape from his rental car before it got creamed by a train. He said his GPS system told him to turn there.