Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Bitch

When Star Trek TNG came out, we were led to believe that when computers talked to us, it was going to be a good thing. It seemed a little implausible, sure (we all remember Hal--didn't that have the ring of truth to it?), but we sort of figured at some stage it would be doable. Certainly it required less suspension of disbelief than, say, Heisenberg compensators. Majel Barrett was going to provide us with essential information and answer our questions, effortlessly deducing our true intent from plain, colloquial English.

Alas, we don't get Majel Barrett. We get The Bitch. The Bitch is that lady who lives inside your electronics, and she is ALWAYS pissed off and ALWAYS convinced she's right. My friend named The Bitch after getting acquainted with her via a GPS system. The Bitch nags you when a turn is coming up--she's such a nag that, like a naughty child, you're pretty tempted to ignore her (especially if, as a human, you've made one of your pesky, on-the-fly decisions--The Bitch has trouble coping with spontaneity), which, I hear, occasionally prompts human passengers to add their nagging to The Bitch's nagging in an effort to get you to TURN HERE! A vast improvement over a human with a map, clearly.

This morning I had an irritating run-in with The Bitch at the grocery store, where she spoke to me from the self-checkout computer. I was thinking, sunny day, new haircut, I'm gonna buy some champagne and have me a few mimosas out on the balcony with some dated reading material. But man, that Bitch really hates me, and she knows how to ruin a party. I can handle her demanding that I scan my cereal again. I can handle her asking me 30 times whether I have my grocery store membership card. But when The Bitch tells me that there is an unexpected item in the bagging area and locks me out of the computer, that's when I lose patience with her.

I can barely deal with human expectations of me, so I'm certainly not qualified to figure out what The Bitch expects to see in the bagging area. It clearly bears no relationship to the items I've scanned, because that's ALL THAT'S THERE. So now I'm holding up the line because The Bitch has unrealistic bagging area expectations. And have you noticed that the store hires a lady who stands there and watches you struggle with The Bitch but never, ever offers to help? Maybe the grocery store has issued a prime directive. Eventually The Bitch decided that I bored her and let me leave with my champagne.

But I'm telling you, the bitchy computers have got to go. Out with The Bitch, in with Majel Barrett.

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