the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Five is a Crowd


Before leaving yesterday, I already knew what it would be like to drive around Orange County searching for the Irvine Barclay Theater with Sophia and my parents.  Sophia would tell me to drive faster.  My mother would tell me to drive slower.  My father would question the route that I’m taking.  To solve the problem, I invited another person into the car – the Mapopolis’ GPS woman.

I bought the GPS card and connected it to the Dell Axim.  I downloaded Mapopolis’ California maps from their website.  I bought some wireless contraption at Radio Shack that broadcast the Axim’s sound on some FM station in the car.  I was impressed with myself and my geeky skills.

It seemed like a perfect solution, until I discovered that Mapopolis woman was as much a “backseat driver” as everybody else.  Worse, she spoke in this annoying robotic voice that was difficult to understand:

GPS:   In fif-te-en fe-et, make a le-ft on Ex-it twen-ty three.

Me:    Exit 23?

GPS:   10 feet…  

A FM Spanish station started breaking in on the GPS frequency.

Radio:  (singing) Aquí me ven.  Es hora de recuperar…

Mom:   Are they singing the directions now?  Sophia, you’re a translator, what did they say?

Sophia:   Mom, it’s Marc Anthony… and I don’t translate every language in the universe.

Me:   Is Euclid Street —  Exit 23?

Sophia:   It must be.

Mom:   Why would she call it Exit 23 if it’s Euclid Street?

Me:   It must be the official name of the street.

Mom:   That’s crazy.  In New York, a street has one name and that’s it.

Dad:   That’s not true.  Isn’t 7th Avenue also the Avenue of the Americas?

Mom:   But the GPA wouldn’t call it that in New York.   No one does.    Only tourists. 

Radio:   Mentiras…   Vivir sin mentiras

Mom:    Sophia, what did he sing? 

Sophia turns to me and rolls her eyes.

Mom:   OK, OK, you don’t translate Spanish.

Sophia:  It’s about love, Mom.   And it’s GPS, not GPA! 

Dad:    You see, Neil?   She still calls her Mom.  There’s hope yet!

Mom:   OK, GPS, GPA, same difference.

Sophia:   And how do you know about GPS in New York?  You don’t have a GPS or a car.

Mom:  I just know.  The GPA… GPS in New York are much more simpler.

Sophia:   Neil, could you please drive a little faster?  You drive like an old woman.

Me:   I’m trying to listen to this robot…  Sophia, could you stop singing with the song?

Radio:  Amar sin mentiras.   Quiero amar sin mentiras….

Mom:   Go slow, Neil.   Better to play it safe.

Sophia:   Mom, you never drove a car in your life.  I promise you, it’s dangerous to go too slow.

GPS:   W-rong di-rec-tion!  Turn a-round!  Turn a-round!  Make a left and re-turn to Ex-it twen-ty three

Me:   I missed it.

Mom:   Hah, Sophia!  You need to go slow!

Dad:   Euclid was Exit 23.  She wasn’t lying.

Sophia:   The GPS doesn’t lie.  It gets its data from a government satellite.

Mom:   Data-shmata.  There’s a lot about the government you don’t know about, Sophia.

GPS:   In one foot, make a right turn…

Me:   Over here?

Sophia:   That’s a Mobil station.

GPS:   W-rong di-rec-tion!  Turn a-round.  Turn a-round!  Go back to Ex-it twen-ty three… 

Radio:   Aquí me ven.  Tratando de limpiar los restos…

Dad:    Next time, let’s take a cab…  Or let Sophia drive. 

Mom:  You’re going to put it on your bolo, aren’t you?

Sophia:  Bolo, you mean – blog?

Mom:  What’s a blog?

Dad:  This song is marvelous!


  1. lizriz

    I take it back. 😉 Liz

  2. Edgy Mama

    Thank you. Can you just transcribe your entire weekend for me?

  3. The Moviequill

    cool…Marc Anthony (chuckles and slinks away)

  4. Brooke

    Neil, you are brilliant. I actually feel like I was in the car with all of you. I’m a little nauseous now. Are we there yet?

  5. Jack

    A trip with the Costanzas. I love it.

  6. Josia


  7. alley rat

    yer funny.

  8. wendy

    Painful and funny at the same time. I guess it is funny because we can all relate!! Thanks for sharing your pain.

  9. Anonymous City Girl

    How incredibly uncomfortable. Lost and trapped in a car with your separated spouse and parents. I suggest making a dry run or two by yourself next time. Find the quickest route and commit it to memory. Although then we wouldn’t have your pain to amuse us *w*.

  10. Charlie

    Very funny stuff. Thanks for the laugh. It has the makings of sitcom pilot.

  11. Neil

    Painful? Uncomfortable? Trapped? In our family, we call this “good times.” We actually had a great weekend and I love them all!

  12. K

    I hate it when the perfect plan is spoiled by Marc Antony.

  13. M.A.

    Bolo…that was priceless!

  14. Leese

    I’ve always wondered what the GPS lady would say if I didn’t do as told.

    “You missed the turn, you idiot! Now make a fucking U-turn. No, not there. Did you leave your brain at home?”

  15. Neil

    6th Avenue. You’re absolutely right! You must be a tourist.

  16. Tatyana

    Yep. From Brooklyn.

  17. Neil

    Tatyana, Spesiba bolshoi. I’ll tell my Dad about his mistake (he’s from Queens, so it’s understandable).

  18. estee

    till now i thought all my mother knew how to use the internet for was email. i found out the other night that my mother knows what a bolo is. i am now afeared that she will unlock the powers of google and find mine.

  19. Tatyana

    The Avenue of Americas is 6th Ave., not 7th.

  20. Hasy

    Detoxification or ‘detox’ for alcoholics is an abrupt stop of alcohol alcoholism treatment coupled with the law.See more info here: Alcogolism problems

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