We have a new friend in the family. With her charming British accent, helpful demeanor, and knack for perfect timing, Mrs. Quidd, as we fondly call her, has changed the way we do things around here. No, we haven't hired a housekeeper. My husband purchased a portable GPS (global positioning system). And the ramifications are staggering.
On its first day out of the box, my husband and I headed out the front door for our usual stroll around the block. The GPS came with us.
"You're bringing that with you?" I eyed the apparatus suspiciously. After all, we'd walked around the block umpteen times without ever getting lost.
"Absolutely." Keith fidgeted with our new friend. "I want to see where we are."
"Ummm. We're right here, in front of the house."
Keith's chest puffed out a bit. "Yes, but now I can see exactly where we are, and exactly how far we've walked." He glanced down and began pressing buttons.
"It's 2.4 miles around the entire block," I assured him. "I measured the distance with our car when we first moved into the neighborhood."
Undeterred by this information, Keith continued to consult with his new toy. And I tried hard not to roll my eyes.
When we returned home, Mrs. Quidd assured us that it was indeed 2.4 miles around the block. And I realized that Mrs. Quidd was here to stay and was going to continue to give us directions everywhere we went.
Following Her Every Command
What truly amazes me is that my husband, who isn't particularly fond of receiving advice of any type while driving, actually paid for this innovative gadget that virtually never stops offering definitive suggestions in our car. In a woman's voice.
A typical car journey involving the two of us showcases a peace-keeping endeavor of epic proportions. Before Mrs. Quidd, we routinely debated which route provided the most efficient means of getting to our destination; our conversations grew as hot as a faulty radiator.
Take a typical trip across town to our friend's house. It starts out peacefully enough. But with the unexpected flick of a turn signal, I glance around, attempting to grasp my husband's Modus Operandi. "Why are you turning here?" I wonder aloud, and our showdown begins.
"This way is faster," Keith assures me.
Our car commences maneuvers behind the local hospital, and we begin dodging enormous trash dumpsters and parked ambulances in my husband's quest for a better way to get there.
Queasiness gripps my stomach as our vehicle twists and turns erratically.
"Couldn't we just go straight down to the end of the road and then turn right?" I moan.
"I want to go this way. Do you mind?" Keith says.
He pretends not to huff and I pretend not to roll my eyes.
But things have changed. Now Mrs. Quidd calls the shots in our automobile. And I, for one, am relieved.
"In point three miles, turn right," she coos, in her proper English voice, sounding like one of Agent 007's beautiful women. Moments later she "helpfully" reminds us when the "point three miles" is up. "Turn right," she insists.
My husband, who grits his teeth if I point out that he's missed our exit, willingly complies with Mrs. Quidd's every driving command. I sit in a daze of wonder.
Prior to Keith's savvy acquisition, our annual vacation bicker-fest took place as regularly as the gas tank needed filling. Hatfield and McCoy-type feuds erupted while driving down southern dirt roads where hand-painted, misspelled signs for Boiled Peanuts were as plentiful as the dust behind us. Now, however, Mrs. Quidd authoritatively settles nearly every driving issue.
"In point five miles, turn left," she says. And we do.
My husband is particularly fond of the complete local area directory his GPS provides. This feature includes a listing of the restaurants, stores, and attractions of whichever town we happen to be visiting. After all, you never know when you might need to locate a genuine, still operational gem and gold mining company, take-out collard greens, or Hubert's Bird Bath Emporium.
Ever one to challenge the status quo, my mischievous husband occasionally makes a wrong turn on purpose, throwing our prim and proper Mrs. Quidd into an electronic tizzy.
"Recalculating," she repeats. Over and over.
Keith chuckles smugly to himself, enjoying his momentary defiance. And every once in a while, he gleefully pushes the "Stop" button to silence his driving companion. Because he can.
I shake my head from side to side, grinning. "Is this what you want from the passenger seat? Silence at your command?"
My husband stifles a laugh. "Not from you, honey. I look forward to your driving suggestions. I treasure them."
"Oh, really?" My eyebrows arch. "Last year after your surgery I drove you all over town for six weeks—and you drove me crazy!"
"It was the pain killers," Keith deadpans. I don't believe him for a second.
Give Me Some Space
Now that we've had Mrs. Quidd for a while, I realize that neither of us is good driving company, even with her help. Unfortunately, she's taken us the long route one time too many, and I don't entirely trust her. That's right, in spite of world class technology, what could be good conversation time in the front seats remains an ongoing power struggle. And nobody is winning.
We can still argue about each other's driving. But Mrs. Quidd has helped me realize something about my marriage: I need to relax and allow my husband to drive whichever route he desires, even if I disagree with his whacky back-street method of getting there. Likewise, I desire the same consideration from him while behind the wheel. Most of all, I recognize that what's really important is not how we get there, but how we treat each other on the way.
Keith and I now agree to give each other space on the road, and we withhold advice that isn't requested (unless, of course, we pass an exit). I still occasionally have to remember to bite my tongue when we set out on a driving adventure. And believe me, driving with my husband remains an adventure, even when he's teamed up with Mrs. Quidd. Now, however, we cross the finish line in peace, instead of with our hands around each other's neck. Most of the time.
Julie Gillies, a freelance writer and speaker, has written more than 70 articles for such publications as CBN.com, The Quiet Hour, Devotions magazine, P31 Woman magazine, and A Time to Love online magazine. Julie is also a contributing writer to the books Daily Devotions for Writers and Penned from the Heart. www.juliegillies.com
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
Click here for reprint information.