Oh, the mysterious adventures in electronic language

Published 2:18 am Sunday, February 20, 2011

I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the Kairos Prison Ministry International Convention in Orlando, having been elected as the Magnolia State representative to that body. The new Chairman of the state Board, Von Brister of Biloxi, accompanied me: well, actually, I accompanied him, since he took his wife’s car down there after putting her on a plane to California to visit grandkids.

Peggy’s vehicle is a fairly new Volkswagen Passat, which naturally has all the bells and whistles such a State Chairman’s Wife’s Vehicle should have. One of these accoutrements was a GPS system, built into the car’s dashboard with a TV screen and Lady’s voice announcement provided, to keep us from getting lost.

The Mississippi Kairos Music Team has made this annual trip for the past three years, but because KPMI is going through a major reformation, they couldn’t find time on the Conference Program for a lot of music, so just appointed Uncle Bob to do those honors as needed. But since it’s widely publicized that the Music Team has a propensity for getting lost, I was often asked if Convention attendees could expect a late arrival of that Team, when they managed to find the hotel. Sadly, I had to shake my head; however, the new MS Karo Chairman (hereinafter referred to as “His Grace”) proved to be reliable in the customary MS Tradition.

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His Grace had typed in the designated address for the Convention hotel before we left Biloxi, which I thought was a little presumptuous, but then I am well-certified as NOT being a Tech-Weenie, so I kept my mouth shut. Yet I was impressed with the Lady’s guidance, except for her pronunciation after we had made each ordered turn: “Stay on da road.” His Grace said she was German.

But after almost nine hours of her guidance, the Lady proclaimed that we were only “Two point nine miles from our destination.” By this time it was dusk, so maybe the darkness had something to do with the next hour’s events. Regular readers may remember that on previous trips, the Music Team has enjoyed numerous ground orbits of the Orlando Airport before reporting to the Airport Holiday Inn Hotel for the Convention. That road is still available, we found.

First thing was, the Lady suddenly commanded, “Exit right now!” This was given in the same tone as the patrol’s point man might exclaim upon spying an enemy ambush ahead. We exited.

The sign proclaimed that it was the Freeway (why do they call it Freeway, when they have regular toll booths on it?) Exit for holders of something called a “Sunpass.” We had no such item. His Grace tried backing up to return to the Freeway, much to the consternation of our Navigator Lady, as well as other drivers trying to make it to the Sunpass tollbooth. His Grace muttered that hidden cameras would insure his getting a ticket from the Florida Highway Patrol the next week.

Undeterred, our Lady ordered a right turn, which proved to be the entrance to the Airport for Ground Orbital Vehicles. Her subsequent commands took us on a scenic tour of the Airport Lake, though it wasn’t particularly scenic at night. His Grace engaged in a heated conversation with the Lady, whose tone also took on an irritated vehemence. The climax was when she ordered a “Left turn NOW!” His Grace roared back, “I CAN’T turn left now, Woman! There ain’t no street!”

Note that we’ve gone from addressing our navigator as “Lady,” to “Woman.” It deteriorated further, take my word for it, but this is a family publication, right?

My 1991 Ford pickup does not have a GPS system, but I could have gotten a German system for next to nothing in Orlando. If I ever get such a system, I will be able to converse with it, after an hour training seminar with His Grace.

We found the hotel. Four days later, we had no trouble leaving Orlando. His Grace had bought a map. There is a dial for muting the Navigator Person’s voice on a Volkswagen Passat. She did not disturb us on the drive back to Biloxi.

For Electronic Language Seminar Lessons, e-mail roberthittneill.com. Free.