When I went to get into my new white Volvo, she was already in the car. This was a new experience for me.

My first stop was a restaurant in suburban Boston to meet with a donor – one of the kindest, most generous men in the world. (Winner, along with folks like Bob Hope, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, of the United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Award. Flies coach. Chose a nice Italian restaurant in a strip mall next to his dry cleaner.) I told her the address of the restaurant.

"Right turn followed by slight left turn," she said in a pleasant voice. But Logan Airport is a mess of barricades, detours and temporary ramps, and I wasn’t sure which right turn she meant.

"Continue on current road," she said, as I approached a choice.

This took me back to the terminal.

"Recalculating route," she said, leaving me to decide between Arrivals or Departures.

"Left turn in point four miles, followed by slight left turn," she said.

"Left turn."

"No, not THERE," she said.

"What are you DOING?" she said.

I was just following signs for Airport Exit.

This was making her completely crazy.

"What are you DOING?!!" she moaned one more time before crashing. (She crashed, not me, although in my Volvo, I would surely have been safe.)

Eventually I reached a known stretch of road where, after rebooting, she got her bearings and directed me safely to my strip mall.

“You have arrived,” she said, with – maybe I was imagining this, but I felt I detected a tone that implied, “and good riddance.”

“Wait in the car,” I said, as I went in to dinner.

I don’t know whether it was the good company that warmed me up to her when I returned, or her determined professionalism that took the exasperation out of her voice, but somehow we began to get along. I played some classical music for her and she guided me from the strip mall to the Concord, New Hampshire, Courtyard By Marriott, where I would be addressing 200 JumpStart high school teachers the next morning. She got me there without a flaw.

I left her in the car anyway – you know how I am – and didn’t come back until lunch the next day, after my speech. On to a little town just past Dartmouth for another donor dinner, then back to the Hertz Car Return at Logan, again without a flaw.

I am sold on this woman. The Volvo was too big and too white, but this woman? Despite our rocky start, I’ll never again leave home without her.

Thanks, babe !


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