Due to some Apple software glitch, I have two Siris. They are both Irish. I like having Siri with an accent. For a while, she had a British-Indian accent. She’s been Australian, and now her Irish relatives are on the job.
It was going so well. Irish Siri is cheerful, upbeat, thoughtful: “Go past these lights, and at the next light, turn right.” Well, thank you, Siri, because I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to get on the bypass here or up the road a bit. I really appreciate it!
We have just moved back to our former hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. A lot of it is familiar, but it’s grown a lot, too, so I’ve been getting GPS help from Irish Siri when I have to go someplace.
One day, I about spilled my to-go tea. “Starting route to —,” wherever I was going. But it wasn’t my happy Irish Siri. It was depressed Irish Siri, her voice about an octave lower, talking slower. It was brusque Siri. Glum Siri. Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh” Siri. “In 500 feet, turn right.” She might as well have added: “If you even want to go there. That place has really gone downhill.” Heavy sigh. “Nothing stays the same, you know that?”
Gone was the “We can get there together!” positive Siri. Then, for the next few trips, happy Siri was back. Then, depressed Siri was back. Sometimes during the same trip, we would have one Siri for a few directions, and then the other.
It’s optimistic “Marian, Madame Librarian” versus “The Sadder but Wiser Girl” in “The Music Man.” I never know who I’m going to get. It’s like living with an alcoholic. “I hope Siri is having a good day today.” I get in the car and my face looks like a grimace emoji. Please be happy Irish Siri! I take nothing for granted anymore.
Sad Irish Siri is disillusioned. She is a smoker. She goes to the pub by herself, and always sits in the same booth. No one else ever sits there. “Jameson. Start a tab.” Who hurt you, Siri? Who broke your heart? I’m here if you want to talk.
“Stay in the middle lane and continue onto Garth Road.”
Happy Siri wears her hair in a perky ponytail. She gets up and runs two miles every morning. She volunteers at the senior center. She’s saving up for a Vespa. She’s been step dancing for twelve years. Animals and children love her. She always has fresh flowers in her house, which she picks from the cottage garden she has grown in her little front yard. She has a picket fence. Birds land on her outstretched hand. Her boyfriend is a firefighter.
“In half a mile, turn right. Do what you want. I don’t even care. What’s the point? It’s one trip closer to death.“
“You’re taking this stuff to Goodwill, but you just bought more crap. It’s the circle of crap. Nobody even wants it. They’re going to throw it away as soon as you drive off. You didn’t even get the tax receipt.” Depressed Siri put on twenty pounds during Covid. Her roots need serious touch-up work.
“All that stuff you bought? It will just be a burden for your kids to deal with when you die.”
“That guy cut you off! Men, am I right? They’re all the same! God, I hate this bra.”
Sunny Siri wants to help. “I could go with you to Victoria’s Secret if you’d like. Maybe some new bras would brighten your day. I also have a discount code for 20 percent off!”
There is silence. “And we could go smell the new candles at Bath and Body Works.”
“It hasn’t been the same since they got rid of Cucumber Melon. Everything good comes to an end.”
“Sometimes they bring it back! Along with White Citrus! There’s always hope!”
This is a lot. This is rough. I just want to take my dog, Daisy, to the groomer and need to know how to get there. I need Siri to be on point! At the top of her game! Rerouting me around areas of heavy traffic!
I went online for answers, and found a Mac forum discussion entitled, “Weird Siri Voice Changes.” Someone said: “Has anyone had any issues with Siri in the recent update?” This person also had Irish Siri. Most of the time, as with my Siri, she was her usual effervescent self. “Occasionally, though, I will get feedback in a much more robotic, synthesized version of the voice. Did Apple change Siri to use a more monotonous voice when performing on-device functions outside the internet?” (As I said, this was a Mac forum, aka nerd city.)
Someone else replied: “What seemed to resolve this for me was going back to the Siri voice selection, and then selecting the voice again and making sure that it downloaded the high-resolution version of the voice.” Someone else chimed in; a different Apple update, the same problem. “It was very annoying.” Another person said the changed Siri sounded “dour.”
“Yeah. Whatever. It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
Dour Siri has actually agreed to go to the mall with cheerful Siri. Fortunately, they don’t need directions. I gave them money to go to Starbucks. Not the pub! Don’t you take her to the pub, happy Siri! Even if it’s Shepherd Pie night! No more Guinness! No Jameson! No Boilermakers! “I won’t! Don’t worry! She doesn’t need the carbs.”
I told them to take the long way home. Drive around a little. The peace and quiet will be worth it.
© Janet Farrar Worthington