hello from poxboro!

I’m at my sister’s house today, chilling out and preparing for attending a friend’s wedding tomorrow. My local thrift store was having a 90% off sale (not a typo) and so, since none of my fancy clothes fit me, I got a dress and shoes and a few shirts for Jim (if he wanted them) as well as a little purse-thing (all I have are messenger bags) another skirt and a light sweater, all for $6.19. It is hard to have to leave the 1950s sometimes….

Last time I was down here, I wanted to grab a gyro on my way in to town. I knew there was a pizza place that I liked but I couldn’t remember what it was called. A quick aside, when I grew up, Boxboro was sort of teeny. It didn’t have its own post office and you’d tell people where you were from and they’d say “Foxboro?” “No, Boxboro.” “Boxford?” “No!” People had yellow t-shirts made that said “Boxborough with a [picture of a bumblebee]”

Now the town is a little bigger and more people live here and more people have heard of it. The town has a post office and a website even if we can’t all agree on how to spell it. However, there are still problems. My default “How do I find this business?” option is to call Google 411. You say the business name and the city/state and not only will it look up the number (for free) it will connect you (for free). You can even just say a business type like “pizza” or “taxi” and it will give you the top listings. It uses voice recognition, no humans, and it works pretty much all the time. Except for Boxboro.

I called and said “Pizza. Boxboro Massachusetts.” It repeated what I said “Pizza. Foxboro Massachusetts. I’ll connect you, or say ‘start over'” “Start over.” I tried this a few times figuring this was just the voice recognition machine getting used to or possibly learning different voices. However, no matter how hard I stressed the B, it kept hearing F. I had some time to kill so I went through the entire alphabet of letters “Soxboro Massachusetts…. Start over… Toxboro Massachusetts… Start over…” Sometimes I’d get Foxboro, sometimes I’d get something else, never would I get the actual town. I finally just punted and asked for “Pizza. Acton Massachusetts.” And got Bravo Pizza in the top set of listings.

When I heard them say the name of the town in the listing, it sounded a lot like box-burr-OH which isn’t that far off so I’m not sure what the problem is. I’m not sure if this is something that I care about enough to start a whole “hey fix this!” campaign especially because I know right now it would likely be futile, but it’s just one more tiny ignominy about living in smalltown America while Big Tech makes awesome tools that only sort of work here.

What do you think?


  1. I hear you. I live in a small NE Nebr. town. We finally got somewhat decent cell reception, but only from U.S.Cellular and Vaero. Alltel..not so good. Frontier is the only DSL provider & they don’t let any competition in so they can charge whatever they want. I pray for wireless company to move close enough for a signal. No cable, must have satellite for TV & the price keeps going up while the channels are crap. But, less people, less traffic, less noise but we can’t have it all I guess.

  2. I recently tried for about 20 minutes to get Google 411 to recognize anything that even resembled “Cayucos” (even worse, I was trying to get a listing for a restaurant called “Hoppes”, pronounced HOP-ees). It was completely futile.

    I know that the service does have a keypad option, where you can type in the letters of what you’re looking for, because I’ve been offered the option before. But I don’t know how to trigger it without it being offered (maybe you can just start keying things in?).

  3. I don’t think I asked, but I suppose the answer is obvious: so, this pizza place is worth the drive from Chelmsford? And I hope your finery made the wedding enjoyable, although I still do not envy you.