I'm awakened by a bump in the road. My head lifted ever so slightly off that part of the passenger door just below the window, landing uncomfortably on that other part of the door that lets you know the door's unlocked. It's locked now.
The car drives smoothly down a near empty road surrounded by picturesque green hills and a blue sky on what could not be a more gorgeous day.
I couldn't have been out for too long. I've done this trip a few times before, and it always begins like this. Gorgeous countryside and perfect weather.
The first time I made the trip I had no directions and didn't know my destination. They just gave me the keys and wished me good luck. I remember taking a lot of scenic detours, trying to avoid bad weather, and making a lot of tourist stops. You know, try to keep it interesting. Where I ended up - well, it wasn't exceptional, but neither was I. After all, I was just starting out.
But I've gotten better as time has gone on, or at least I tell myself I have. When I upgraded, they even gave me a driver. Instead of making all of the decions on my own, they told me, I could rely on my driver.
I look over at him, my driver. His name's Data. He doesn't have the sleek Brent Spiner look. He's not that sophisticated. My Data looks like a poorly drawn cartoon character, and it can be a little surreal the first time you get in the car with him. He's very boxy. Square head, square eyes. Square almost everything, really. White on the inside with black lines outlining his figure.
The first time I rode with Data I was excited. He was supposed to help me avoid those scenic detours and tourist stops. Make the route more direct. After I got over his weird appearance, things seemed to get easier for a while. I could take a nap here and there, play some Sudoku, or read a book. And he's not bad company, if a tad overly logical.
But Data and I don't get along perfectly. A lot of times he likes to take routes I'd rather not, through bad weather or over unpaved roads. Sometimes I'll beg for the opportunity to stop and take a look at a scenic overlook only for Data to say it would be imprudent. It makes me enjoy the drive a little less.
There are other times when his driving just doesn't make sense. "Data, it'd be faster if we took this exit. Remember what the attendant at that last gas station told us?"
"I'm sorry James, the GPS does not indicate that would be a prudent choice."
I can see where Data is coming from. He's not all bad. I just wish I could get a better version of him, one that could think things through and wonder about the reasoning behind our decisions. After all, we still haven't quite agreed on where or why we're going wherever it is that we're going.
I shake off my daydreaming and realize we might be pulling up on our destination.
"Is this it, Data?"
"I think this is it, James."
I've started this trip five different times, but I finish in a different place every time. The town we're approaching could not look more normal. Nothing flashy or glamorous. The people don't smile, but they also don't frown. Everyone seems content enough.
"Data, this town looks nice enough, but don't you think it'd be fun, just for once, to see if we could go somewhere more exciting? Maybe somewhere with more majesty, more creativity? Maybe next time?"
"No James, this place seems just right. I couldn't be more pleased."
I turn away from Data and gaze back out the window.
I don't care what they tell me. Next time I will try the trip on my own again, or at least with a different version of Data. This one has shown me all that he can.