Two Waze About It: Is Saving 15 Minutes Worth Hurting My Marriage?

Waze has changed my life. As someone who is geographically challenged, Waze has fundamentally altered the way I see the world. Before Waze (let’s call it B.W.), I would studiously hand-write directions before I went anywhere, circling L and R for left and right turns.

I would pull over to look at Yahoo! maps print-outs, stopping and starting my journey repeatedly, like a scratched CD freezing and then lurching ahead. I’d cling to landmarks. Was that the white church with the Popeye’s nearby? Yes! There’s the Popeye’s!

I’d use the clunky car phone to call my mom and stepdad before crucial intersections.

“Mom, get Howard on the phone! Belt Parkway or Whitestone Bridge? Belt or Whitestone? Hurrry! AHHHH, too late! I went towards the Whitestone. Now what?!”

I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

I’ll drive anywhere with Waze. Upstate New York? Vermont? Philly? I’m in! If I make a wrong turn — which I still do, often — Waze instantly reroutes me. It’s magic.

Not everyone agrees that Waze rules the world. In fact, my husband is getting a little tired of it. Even if we’re driving 10 minutes from dinner back to our own house, as soon as we get in the car I put my hand across his chest and say, “Wait! Let me get Waze on!”

“But honey,” he says. “We’ve driven this way a million times. We know how to get home.”

“Ah, but we might be able to get there faster!” I say, like a wizard summoning up a new potion. “Look!”

And then I show him. Our normal route would take three minutes longer than the one Waze suggests. Three whole minutes!

“I mean, does three minutes really matter?” he asks.

What?! Yes!

It’s particularly bad when we’re driving out of Manhattan.

“Ho-ney,” my husband pleads. “If we use Waze right now, we’ll have to go through a totally unknown neighborhood, criss-cross over crowded six lane roads, navigate constantly and have our conversation interrupted every two minutes just to save, what? Six minutes. Is it worth it?”

I pause.

“Well, yes,” I say, “because what if there’s an accident on our normal route. What if?! If we don’t use Waze, we won’t even know about it! Then it can be so much more than six minutes. It can be six hours!”

He sighs and starts driving. A mensch.

Then Waze starts in on us.

“In 1,000 feet, turn left.”

“How far is 1,000 feet?!” My husband asks.

“In 600 feet — in 300 feet — in 100 feet — “

“Turn left!!!” I shout. “Here! Left!”

My husband jerks the car onto a random side street where we start bumping up and down over potholes and discarded hubcaps.

“In 1,000 feet, turn right, then a quick left.”

I can’t even look at him. The car is jostling us out of our seats. We’re ducking under low overpasses.

Okay, fine, maybe he has a point.

Once we finally merge back onto the road we know — the road he wanted to take all along — we’re stressed and exhausted, the car is beat up, and yet we saved time.

He points to a red Jeep.

“That’s the same car that was in front of us before we turned left,” he says.

“Oh come on, how do you know?”

“I know. It took us the exact same time to get here.”

We drive in silence for a while.

“Honey,” he says, choosing his words carefully. “Can’t we turn off Waze and just get places 15 minutes later? I hate being interrupted when I’m driving and we’re talking. It’s so much easier just to go the way we already know and not have to think. Is saving time really worth ruining the trip?”

Maybe he was right. Especially when we already knew the route.

Bright shining as the sun.

Once, I even tried programming his voice into Waze so that whenever the voice said turn right or left, it was actually him. How much could he annoy himself?! His triumphant, “We did it!!!!” came on at the end of every drive. But that only marginally placated him.

I flashed back to the time we used Waze in LA to get to a trendy restaurant a friend had booked in Little Koreatown. I hadn’t checked the route in its entirety when Waze started taking us there. Next thing we knew, Waze had us exiting the 10 on Crenshaw Blvd.

“Turn right on Crenshaw. Then turn left on Watts.”

“HONEY!?! Did you hear that?”

My husband glanced over at the phone and then grabbed it from my hand.

“What the….”

“I’m sorry!! I didn’t look ahead at the route!” I said.

We held our breath through South Central. But at that point what could we do? We had no idea where we were or how to get anywhere else. I bit my lip. Whoops! When we finally emerged unscathed, he put his foot down: No way. No Waze.

Okay, fine. Waze definitely has its pluses and minuses. But in navigating our relationship, I’ve realized that the right way to go is with my husband. If we get there a little slower, so be it. At least we’ll arrive together and enjoy the time.

But if I’m alone on the road, you know which Waze I’m going.

And it’s going to be dope.

Amazing Waze. How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me.

Amen.

(Note: Lyrics from “Amazing Grace.” Hope you caught that.)