Picture this: an old fashioned gentleman who opens doors for women and pulls out their chairs for them. If he’s with a woman at a restaurant he waits for her to order first. When going through an entrance he gestures for her to go ahead of him.
He’s a man who would tip his hat to women passing by if he were born a few years earlier. That’s what gentlemen do; that’s the way they behave; it’s been drummed into their minds since childhood and is as automatic as a Y-Generation guy giving a fist bump to a buddy.
Such a gentleman is my husband, Harvey.
When his first cell phone would no longer take a battery charge and finally quit after giving years of service, he went shopping to buy a replacement. A phone; nothing fancy, no hip hop tunes for ring tones, interactive calendars or internet shenanigans; just an ordinary cell phone that receives and delivers telephone calls.
But he met a salesman who showed him the amazing advances since the eons of five years when he bought the the first one.
Apple computer’s voiced computerized fact finder, Siri, finally sold him on the I Phone with its bells, whistles and personal assistant inside the phone. Harvey was entering the world of 21st century technology.
As he started calling upon Siri to do her chores the dialogue became unexpectedly funny to me and frustrating to him. Here is the dialogue of his first attempts at communicating with Siri.
“Siri,” he started, politely addressing her by her proper name, “Do you happen to have any current information about the traffic situation in the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to New York?”
Click. Siri had hung up.
“That’s too many words,” I explained. “She has a short memory span. Pare your question down to, “Traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel?”
“Siri, Please tell me about the traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel, if you don’t mind.”
Click. Siri had hung up again.
“You are talking to a computer; not a cute young secretary. Stop wasting words with polite talk.”
“Alright, Siri, I’m asking you nicely. What are traffic conditions in the Lincoln Tunnel this morning?”
“Directions from Trenton,” she offered. At least she didn’t hang up this time, although her response was totally irrelevant to his question.
Siri, he was beginning to think, was no lady!
So I doubt whether he would open a door or pull out a chair for Siri if the occasion arose. Now if only he would stop saying “Please and Thank You.” His mother would be so disappointed in his newly acquired speaking style, being asked to un-remember the polite childhood lessons of always saying “please and thank you.”
But his mother never spoke to a computer either.
Meshing Harvey’s world with Siri’s and learning each other’s ways of communicating is still a long work in progress.