Gene Weingarten: Google-dy gook


(Eric Shansby)
Gene Weingarten
Columnist March 14

A year ago, I wrote about how dreadfully pathetic Google Voice is. That is the app that listens to your voice mail and then e-mails you a supposed transcript. To test the system, I had left a series of urgent-sounding voice mails for my editor, Tom the Butcher, and they all came in too garbled to understand. For example, when I left this message:

“I have cut the brake cable in your Prius because I want to have your wife all to myself. It was wrong, and I regret it. Don’t get in that car.”

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

It became:

“Cut the briefcase came on your previous, so I wanna ask you wife all to myself with long and I regret hello just crazy. We was that call.”

In the intervening year, much has improved in the world. The stock market has continued its recovery. The odious Defense of Marriage Act is dead. Congress raised the debt ceiling, like adults. So I thought I’d check back with Google Voice to see if my shaming had prompted it to improve its system.

Nope!

Message to Tom:

“My head’s in the oven. I can’t live with what a mean-spirited personally obnoxious hack I am, an intellectual fraud with a withered soul and ridiculous hair. If only someone were around to call and reassure me.”

Message as delivered by Google Voice:

“Hey it’s me and I can’t live with what I mean spirited. Personally, I’m not sure if you’re planning to collect full Forbes with. It’s so ridiculous here. If only somewhere around and we usually on office awful thing hi.”

Message to Tom:

“Hey, Tom, in the story I just handed in I accidentally wrote that Alan Dershowitz was arrested for money laundering, cannibalism and crimes against humanity. Actually his clients were. Make sure to correct that so old Dersh doesn’t own The Washington Post.”

Message as delivered by Google Voice:

“Hey Tom, As we are interested in it so that we were open. Alan for. What’s with the rest of the for money wondering, cannibalism in crimes against humanity. Actually clients. 4. Make sure the correct that folder working on the washable.”

Message to Tom:

“Barack Obama and Edward Snowden have agreed to an exclusive simultaneous interview with me, but you need to call the White House right away to confirm I work for The Post.”

Message as delivered by Google Voice:

“Hello. K. Bravo on it, which sucks don’t have a great one. Exclusive simultaneous interview with me. Give me a call whenever right away to confirm that I work for the boat.”

Message to Tom:

“Lisa, my darling, tonight’s the night we escape and I take you to heights of ecstasy Tom can’t even imagine. … Uh-oh. Uh. Is this Lisa’s phone? Crap. … ”

Message as delivered by Google Voice:

“Hey Lisa, McCarlen tonight. Please keep an eye teacher paid for that, cos he talked. Take care the next few. Yo all this is we should phone. Hi!”

(Actually, I guess there are those rare times
when Google Voice’s incompetence works to your advantage.)

E-mail Gene at weingarten@washpost.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.

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