Back in the summer of 2019, the Waze map navigation app announced a partnership to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street.
Cookie Monster was by far the most popular voice option for guiding you around the neighborhood, so in November of 2019, Waze brought the excitable carbo-loader back for a limited time.
I don’t know why I downloaded it. But I did. I don’t even use Waze that much normally, as I find that the time saved from the small corner-cutting ends up getting mostly cancelled out by the additional attention I have to pay to its little tiny tricky. Like that time it helped me shave off 20 minutes of rush hour traffic in Connecticut by taking me 30-miles off the route along an endlessly winding and unlit narrow road. Truth be told, driving through Danbury may have actually been less stressful.
But I’ve been making a lot of trips back and forth between Ithaca, NY and Boston, MA lately, for some personal reasons. Like, every 2 weeks. Or sometimes even more frequently. The drive is a little under 6 hours, and it’s just … kind of … green. The entire time. There aren’t any real sights or landmarks to note, there are only about 3 turns to make along the way, and there are never many other cars on the road. And my Volkswagen Jetta with its broken cruise control really seems to long for the Autobahn of its manufacturing home, which makes it frighteningly easy for me to creep to dangerous speeds without even noticing.
So I keep Waze on, to help keep me from driving dangerously as a zone out on the endless green expanse, and also warn me of speed traps and accidents that awaiting along the way. I don’t need the directions, per se; as I said, it’s a painfully simple drive, that offers no mental stimulation whatsoever, which is the problem.
But as I zone out over my music, or podcast, or audiobook, or however else I’m trying to be productive on the road, it’s been surprisingly helpful to have Cookie Monster occasionally intone, “C is for Cop! And also cookie. Do you think he wants one? Nom nom nom nom.“
It’s a long, long drive, that I’m intimately familiar with at this point. But I still can’t help but smile and laugh every time that stupid voice perks up, and that re-energizes me amidst the mind-numbing drive. The pre-programmed human voice options just don’t give me the same surprise of delight.
Sometimes it’s those stupid little things that help you make it through. So if you’re making any long drives soon — particularly ones that you’re kind-of familiar with, but still require some traffic considerations — maybe download that Cookie Monster voice. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
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