Some people have a love/hate relationship with their GPS. I have a hate/hate relationship with mine. I have a sense of direction so underdeveloped that it defies any and all attempts on the part of the GPS to help me out. And that would be assuming that the damn thing is trying. I currently have a GPS system built into my Honda Odyssey (screaming: MOM VAN!) which gets me lost via the longest route possible all the time. I know this because I turn it on even when I know where I am going, and it tries to send me around the moon just to get to the Sonic. It claims as an excuse that I am entering unverified areas – as if the largest intersection in downtown were unverified. You can choose a male or a female voice and I hate them both. I have the female voice and she just sounds, well, so patient and reasonable. She has a long suffering tone; she always sounds as if she is just at her wit’s end with me. As I am with her. She always tells me the wrong time to turn – she’s always one street behind, as if that were MY fault. Then with her patient voice, and with a near audible sigh, she says “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.” To which I always expect to hear her add: “You dumb ASS.” Unfortunately my daughter has figured out how to correlate the map with the voice and she mechanically chants right along: “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.” (You dumb ASS). Then she says, “Mom, why is the lady telling you to make all those U-turns?”, to which I respond, “Honey, hush. Mommy is DRIVING.” Then my daughter wants to know, “Why didn’t you turn right like she said?” to which I respond, “Honey, hush. Mommy is DRIVING.”
Programming the thing is near impossible. If you try to do it while driving, you will run right off the road. I know, I know, don’t do it while driving. And I don’t. Because I can barely program the thing sitting still. First it demands: “What CITY?” Why it can’t just use the previous one as a default, I don’t know. Because that would make waaaaay too much sense. Then it asks, “What STREET?” and then doesn’t allow numbers to be put in. So what if I want Highway 72? Nope, no numbers. I have to enter HIGHWAY as the name of the street, then scroll through a list of every highway within a twenty mile radius of the metro area. Not in any particular order. Not alphabetically. And not by distance. Nope. Waaaaay too much sense. If I had a sense of direction, I’d set the thing on fire.
I actually had a GPS chat with my folks this weekend. They’ve just bought a new GPS and it turns out, they can’t stand theirs either. Especially my dad. Apparently the first GPS voice they had was named Annette. “Turn Annette off,” my dad said sharply. “She’s too bossy.” So Mom had to hunt around for a new voice. They found a man voice but that infuriated Daddy even more. Finally they found a more acceptable female voice – I guess she sounded timid and acquiescent. Then Mom got started on it. “It tries to put me on the interstate everywhere I go,” she said. “Your father and I were trying to take a back way we know into Montgomery.” “Mom,” I said. “Why were you using the GPS if you already knew where you were going?” “Well, I wanted to see if SHE knew where we were going,” she replied. Apparently New Voice is fond of undigitized areas also. To be honest, I’m surprised my folks try to use such technology at all. “I like a good old fashioned map,” said Mom. Old fashioned maps never did me any good either. I can read a map but that doesn’t mean I can figure out where I am on it. That’s where the no sense of direction thing comes in. My folks are from the midwest, and like most midwesterners, they always know which direction they are going. Something about the roads being laid out sensibly, in grids. In the south, roads frequently follow old carriage paths, even in old Atlanta, and they are laid out not sensibly at all. So if I am representative, Southern folks have little to no sense of which direction they are headed. At least, I like to blame the carriage paths. Probably everybody else knows exactly where they are going. I am the only one lost. So I am left in my Mom van with sarcastic old what’s-her-name who is rolling her electronic eyes at me every time I make a turn and chirping, “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.” (You dumb ASS.)