After owning our car for two years, I suddenly discovered that it had Bluetooth capability. This meant that I could actually get it to answer my phone and make calls for me. If my car would have been able to pick up my husband’s dry cleaning, walk the dog and do the laundry, I could have retired. But unfortunately, all it did was enable me to go hands-free when talking on the phone in the car.

After owning our car for two years, I suddenly discovered that it had Bluetooth capability. This meant that I could actually get it to answer my phone and make calls for me. If my car would have been able to pick up my husband’s dry cleaning, walk the dog and do the laundry, I could have retired. But unfortunately, all it did was enable me to go hands-free when talking on the phone in the car.


Having Bluetooth and programming it, however, are two entirely different things. I am not the most techy person to start with, so I knew going into this endeavor that it had the potential to be ugly. I had already been down this road once before with my car’s navigation system and ended up with a GPS that was both dyslexic and had a speech impediment. Instead of telling me to turn left, it said, “bleft” and when it said, “bleft” it usually meant “right.” I finally gave up, got a plain old paper map, and hurled the GPS out the window over the cliff it told me to turn onto.


Confident that the wise Bluetooth lady would walk me through the process, I decided to forgo the tutorial and just jump right in.


“Phone options,” said the Bluetooth when I activated it.  “Call, dial, redial, phone book, emergency, voice training, tutorial or set up.”


“Set up,” I said with certainty.


“Select one of the following: pairing options, confirmation prompts, select phone, language or pass code.”


“They have this in other languages?” I wondered out loud.


“Language!” she repeated. “Select a language. English, French or Spanish.”


“Wow, French?” I exclaimed. I had taken French in high school and could not recall anything I had learned other than “bonjour,” and “oui.” Still, I thought it was cool that my car could speak French, even if I couldn’t.


“French selected,” said the Bluetooth, repeating me.


“No. No! Not French!” I stammered to my dashboard. I realized the Bluetooth had heard me and thought that I wanted it to change languages.


“Bonjour! Sélections françaises,” it said with a stunning French accent.


“No! Go back! Speaka the Anglais!” I shouted.


“Sélections françaises,” she repeated. “Appelle, compose, récompose, repertoire, urgence, entraînement vocale, tutoriel ou configure.”


I was at a loss. I gaped at the dashboard trying to recall which word translated to the right English option that would get me back to the languages menu. 


“Menu!” I tried.


She repeated the sélections françaises.


“Go back!” I demanded.


This resulted in a whole new slew of options I didn’t understand.


“Cancel!” I ordered. There was silence. I thought maybe I had found a universal keyword, but apparently with Bluetooth, three strikes and you’re out. All of a sudden the Bluetooth started yelling at me in rapid-fire French. I’m pretty sure it was either something about how Americans don’t really appreciate French food or that we never thanked them for the Statue of Liberty.


I decided it was one thing to be abused by technology in my own language. It was quite another to be harassed by a foreign speaking computer with a big silicon chip on her shoulder.


“You know what, Bluetooth?” I announced to the dashboard. “I don’t need you. I have headphones! I don’t care if you speak French, German, Spanish, or Pig-Latin! I’m outta here.”


“Spanish!” repeated the Bluetooth.


“Hola! Selecciones español!”


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