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Published:August 2nd, 2011 10:16 EST
And You Wonder Why Sometimes I Hate Microsoft?

And You Wonder Why Sometimes I Hate Microsoft?

By Donna Cavanagh

My car doesn`t understand me. I talk; it doesn`t listen. I ask questions; it ignores me.  I know this sounds a bit insane, but I am truly a rational person. My car is supposed to understand me. I paid for it to understand me. You see, I got a new Escape, and it came with Microsoft`s Sync technology which provides among other features, the voice-activated phone which allows me to  keep my hand on the wheel and my attention on the road.

Before I drove the car out of the dealership, the tech assistant got my Sync set up and gave me detailed directions on how the system worked. Let me just emphasize that everyone at the dealership was very thorough and very nice. The first few times I used my Sync, I called my daughter.  I hit the command button on my steering column, and said, "Call Coleen." Immediately the female voice inside the Sync said,

"Call Coleen; is that correct?"

I responded "Yes", and like magic, we were connected.  This Sync was an amazing toy that I knew I would grow to love.  A few days ago, I was running errands. My husband was at home, and I needed to ask him a question, so I pressed my Sync command button and said,

"Call home."

"Calling H. Ramone," the female voice sounded.

"What?  No. Stop!"  I yelled.

I admit that H. Ramone was in my phone book but I haven`t called her in about three years, and now, my phone was dialing her, and I couldn`t figure out how to disconnect it.  Frantically, I pushed about 10 different buttons on my steering column. My radio volume was going crazy; I enabled cruise control; and still the phone Sync kept dialing.  Then, just as I heard H. Ramone say "Hello", everything went silent.

I hoped H. Ramone was one of the few people who had yet to subscribe to Caller ID, but a few seconds later, I heard my phone ring and H. Ramone`s name flashed across my dashboard.   Although my mind was rattling off profanity I didn`t even know I knew, my voice remained remarkably calm.

"Did you just call me?" She asked.

"Yes, I guess I did. How nice to hear your voice."  (A blatant lie--my mind continued to rattle off curse words)

H. Ramone didn`t ask any questions as to why I called her after years of no contact, but she did make small talk. When I got to my destination, I ended the conversation promising that I would call her soon to arrange a get together. Afraid of a repeat misdialing, I decided to call my husband`s cell instead of the home number. The Sync was still not recognizing my voice. I know I can be high-pitched sometimes and as I get more frustrated, my voice ascends higher up the octave scale, but I thought I was still coherent, but apparently, the Sync lady did not.   I began cursing at her in a loud and feverish tone. I was literally screeching the F-bomb at my dashboard, but the female voice in my Sync was not rattled. She continued to respond to me in the same monotonous and placating manner which drove me absolutely crazy.

"I did not get your request. Please say `help` for more options."

"Give me my damn husband, you stupid witch!"

Did you say call "H. Ramone ?"

"No, I didn`t say to call her! Don`t call her!  I said Ed`s cell, you moron!"

I hung up on the Sync lady but not before she called H. Ramone once more.

"Hi again,"  H. Ramone answered.  "Are you stalking me?"

"HA HA! I wasn`t sure if that was a serious question. No, I am trying to get used to this new Sync thing in my car; I am so sorry."

"So, you didn`t want to talk to me?"

Uh oh.  New problem. Hurt feelings. Time for a big lie.  "Yes, I thought you were the perfect person to try out the remote phone book thing on.  It was a chance to catch up."

By now I was wondering how this Sync thing is safer because so far I saw no evidence. Not only was my blood pressure about 200/200, but I was flipping buttons, cursing, lying to innocent people, screaming and probably not paying as much attention to the road as I should  have, all in an effort to get the damn Sync system to call the number I needed so I didn`t have to pick up my cell. Then, H. Ramone said,

"Since we`re chatting again, let`s plan dinner. Do you have your book there to look at dates?"

Was this woman freaking kidding me?  Yes, let me let go of the wheel to get my date book from my purse which is on the floor of the passenger seat so that I can set up dinner.  I told her that I would contact her later (and most likely I will contact her the next time I try and make a call from my car) and hung up.  Undaunted by my previous failure, I decided to try and reach my husband one more time.

"Call Ed`s Cell."

"Sorry, please confirm one of the following options."

"DAMMIT! DAMMIT!  Give me the damn number!"

I was now beating up the steering wheel. I got home before the Sync lady could complete my call. I stormed into the house and announced that no longer would I be a party to the farce known as hands free, cell phone driving. I have a call into the Microsoft Sync people. They said it would take two business days for someone to get back to me to answer my questions. For a two-day wait, I want Bill Gates to answer my questions personally, and I want someone at Microsoft to pick up the tab for my dinner with H. Ramone too.

Epilogue: Yes, there is one. Someone did call back and while not Bill Gates, that person gave me instructions on how to get the Sync Lady to answer my questions. So far, so good.