Don’t you ever get sick and tired of your car repeatedly informing you that its service is due/overdue every time you put the keys in the ignition? We blame the Austin MG Maestro, of course for giving cars a recognizable voice. Recognizable that is to any long-suffering menfolk who can readily identify with the shrill voice of the woman in their life taking it upon themselves to remind them of infinitely dull things on a regular basis. Like your tea being on the table for instance, or the door of your Maestro being ajar. Yes, not only did British Leyland position itself at the vanguard of an in-car AI revolution of sorts (a first and last for the resolutely Brummie car maker of yore) by creating an electro-platform for instructional on-board dialogue, but they were also responsible for channelling men’s actual chirpy girlfriends/fishwives through their insistent vocal tones.
Subsequently a constant drip feed of “belt up, peasant stock” resonated across leafy Kent as great swathes of middle-managers of electrical goods retailers in the 1980s embraced the onset of the MG Maestro’s cutting-edge tech, and so unconsciously paving the way for successive generations of motorists thinking it’s perfectly normal to be constantly told what to do by their car. Going so far in recent years as to systematically blackmailing frightened drivers into booking their cars in for a service, by way of hinting that something akin to carmageddon might manifest if you choose to ignore its perpetual dashboard-mounted warning. KITT didn’t exactly help matters neither, with the fucking pedant perpetually bleating on in that patronising way he did whenever the be-permed Michael Knight so much as forgot to indicate left at a junction. Never had a day off, the jobsworth.
KITT bucked the early trend though, as he was a lone male in a female dominated world of voice synthesis, as pretty much any other inanimate object (most of which were largely unseen) which required an interjected voice were, er, manned, by a (wo)man’s more distinctive tonal variations. Take for example the aforementioned 1984 MG Maestro, and as a timely reminder (sorry) as to just how, frankly, infuriating and condescending this model was, we’ve found this clip off the internet. Although sounding like a Dalek at the peak of its menstrual cycle, the effects are supposed to mimic that of a woman of average hair and height. Because – and helping to explain why employed by sat nav manufacturers light years later – a female voice is said to be more soothing (and that men are more likely to respond to its guidance), the Maestro adopted a dreary-sounding woman who may well have been one of BL’s admin workers looking to earn a few quid on the side to lend her voice to the Austin’s advanced technical arsenal. However, and we’re not sure if this is due to issues with regional accents or sinusitis, if you listen carefully to the video you’ll hear the laydee in question saying ‘winning’ as opposed to ‘warning’ in the accompanying video.
According to YouTube/urban legend, there was a whole host of seemingly futile demands she’d make on the hapless Maestro driver back in the mid-80s day, to ensure that their passage was safe. Although if it were me listening to these voice commands my cheeks would be so tightly squeezed nothing would compromise its security. Apparently owners at the time fondly recall the previously noted, ‘Your door is ajar’ call to action, amongst other extra-curricular electro-synthesised notifications. Anyway, in homage to cars giving it the big ‘I am’ attitude and brow-beating drivers into expensive main dealer servicing submission, CARnivorousness thought it were high time to pen a handy guide to ‘The 10 Stages of Digital Dashboard Car Service Reminders, Conveniently Interpreted Via the Contemporary Medium of Emoji’. Which literally just slides off the tongue like other things which slide off the tongue yet aren’t at all rude. None of which we can think of when put on the spot. You see, emojis are very much ‘of the time’, just as giving a 1600cc Maestro a voice was in 1984, so we – like BL – are staying one foot ahead of the competition by taking virtual communication and society interactions to the next level. Possibly. But instead of giving the emoticons an indecipherable (yet antagonistic) voice we’re giving them a sliding scale of angry faces to convey the necessary emotion. Because that’s what they do best, so we’re told.
Scale of Service Reminder Commands in Ascending Order of Frustration;
“Oi, loser, I think your service is due. Sort it, yeah, yeah”
“How many times I have told you, I need servicing! Sort your shit out, now!”
“Jesus wept, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a dozen times!! It’s service o’clock!!”
“Hello Michael. My name is KITT. If you don’t book me in for a service I’ll perm your fucking hair, comprende?!?”
“Er, clothe ears. It’s service time. Wakey fucking wakey!!”
“Are you having a fucking laugh? I. NEED. A. SERVICE. PRONTO!”
“I take it you still want me to delete THOSE texts you received via the in-car Bluetooth last week. Yeah, subtlety doesn’t compute. Deal with it. OR alternatively, give me a service!!!!!”
“Listen up fuzznuts. Either you get me booked in for a service or I tell your wife EVERYTHING I know”
“OK. I’m done with reasoning with you. If you don’t service me within the week I’ll accidentally on purpose break down outside a school at 3.30pm. Consider the scenario for a minute. A man of your age/status seen loitering outside a school…..”
“That’s it. If you don’t arrange my service right now I’ll impregnate your snazzy new laptop”