* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where Google Earth is the only Earth and the Google Truck is the only truck. And who among us is fit to speak for the truck? Only Ioanna Mavrou, a citizen of the world who, according to Google Earth, lives in Cyprus.

The Google Truck Diaries

By: Ioanna Mavrou

In Russia people stare because they keep their cameras inside their cars on their dashboards and I wear mine on the outside like my heart. Easier to get hurt this way, somebody tells me, but I don’t care, not even when some kids throw rocks at me somewhere in the Balkans. I am the Google Truck, I love everybody, the world is my oyster, and so on.

In France I get into trouble when in one of those super narrow streets in Paris I witness a mugging. I tell the muggers I swear I won’t tell anyone, but they chase me anyway. The bottles break on my back and my camera fogs with beer splashes. I don’t stop until I’m on the other side of the tunnel. When Headquarters ask I tell them I don’t know why some street view images are blurry. I don’t turn video on so they don’t see me cry.

I feel safe for a second but then England depresses me because it is rainy and overcast even though it is the middle of July. I call the Google Headquarters back home and complain but they just chuckle. I can almost hear the sunshine coming in through Hangouts. I ask to talk to my supervisor but they tell me he’s off street-viewing Hawaii and I want to die. I tell them that if they don’t get me back home ASAP I will drive myself off the White Cliffs of Dover. They tell me to get on the next boat to New York and I withhold uploads until they agree to a full-expense ride. I take full advantage of it and have so many cocktails I emerge completely wasted in New York and spend two nights in a Bronx jail.

After that I head west. I don’t stop for towns. I don’t look at sights. My camera is on but I’m not really home. I drive and I upload and once I almost run over a deer but I don’t and that makes me sort of happy. A couple times people acknowledge my existence and once some college kids moon me. It’s good to be almost home. I upload pictures and look at Google Doodles to pass the time.

In California things are easy because everyone is mellow and everyone knows me and I can see my home on the map on my dashboard, the dot where I belong within reach, no scrolling required. People wave and other trucks blow their horns as we pass each other on the freeways. In Santa Monica I fall in love with a taco truck and we talk about running away to Mexico together until its owner comes back and drives it away from me. I follow them all the way to North Hollywood and spend the night outside their driveway but in the morning the taco truck pretends not to know me.

I stop at every beach parking lot up the coast and stare at the waves and take street view shots and sigh. When I get back to San Francisco I meet a nice mail truck and we spend hours together, but it’s just a rebound thing. I tell it I am on a mission and can’t be tied down. The whole world is watching. I go back to Mountain View. FML.