“In one hundred metres, at the round-a-bout, take the second exit, Grange Road,” said Annabel.
“You mean go straight?” I said.
“I’ll go straight then.”
On days like this I think having Annabel in the car is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because my old method of travelling to unfamiliar locations involved placing a map on the passenger seat and being careful not to break too suddenly for fear the map might slide off the cushion onto the floor. On occasion the map would fold over by itself, and placing a weight on it was not totally effective as the weight might inhibit being able to see the road intended for travel, and if I broke too suddenly sometimes the weight would slide off the passenger seat onto the floor, where it could roll and nestle under the foot-peddles and other problems could occur.
“Turn left at the traffic lights, Toorak Road.”
“Don’t I take the next left after Toorak for High Street?”
“Ok, let’s try it your way.”
Other benefits to having Annabel in the car are that I can hear a voice not just in my head, I can watch the road instead of both road and map, and I can pretend to drive in car pool lanes. The curse of Annabel when driving is when things go wrong – like when we turn a corner and meet three kilometres of seemingly parked cars, each lined up as though at a bank.
“Toorak Road,” she said definitively.
“This is an almighty cluster hump of traffic.” I said. “Why didn’t you tell me there were more bumpers here than double match night at the roller derby?”
“Or is that blockers? Don’t you have Google or data uplinks to traffic conditions?”
Silence. Then, “At the next traffic lights turn right, Orrong Road.”
In the distance I could see green lights change to red, and my car had moved three metres. This was annoying and Annabel was not being very sympathetic. She absorbed my repeated frustrations rather well, as her mood and complexion didn’t change. She remained, at this time, small, rectangular, snug in the ash tray and plugged into the electric lighter as a power supply. In this she is somewhat of a transformer, and much more fun than the recent movies.
“To hell with this,” I said, and seeing no oncoming traffic I flicked the indicator light and turned sharply. This made the car head back towards the original traffic lights on Grange Road, and it made Annabel complain.
“Preform a U-Turn.”
“Preform a U-Turn.”
“At the next traffic lights, continue straight, and preform a U-Turn.”
At the next traffic lights I turned left and followed my memory’s method, heading towards the next left and High St. This sense of control would not go unchallenged, as today’s embodiment of Annabel had to make her decisions known.
“In one hundred metres, at the traffic lights, turn left, High Street, and destination on the left.”
I didn’t argue with her. It’s fair to say we mostly agree.