Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Can't Get There from Here

Possession of a $200 navigation device SHOULD mean, theoretically at least, that you can drive from A to B without getting lost, right?

My husband (who NEVER gets lost, but who is a sucker for technology) purchased this silly thing from a company that will remain unnamed (but it rhymes with farmin’). When his sister got hopelessly lost using it to navigate her drive to my mother’s house in Philadelphia, he chalked it up to well, you know her, right? When I pointed out that the spoken instructions to make a turn often come a mere millisecond before you actually need to make the turn, he said something about speed and satellites (and admitted, when challenged, that he had no idea how speed affects communication with the satellite). This morning, I had to drive from my house in Silver Spring to a seminar in Columbia. Now, I know how to get from Silver Spring to Columbia. But once I’m IN Columbia, I have no idea how to actually get to where I need to be. I was perfectly happy to do what I always do…get directions from MapQuest. But why do that, he says; why not just use the super-duper GPS system? Look, just program the address in, and it will tell you where to go! (Insert joke here). It’s so easy! You don’t have to waste time printing out directions, then trying to drive and read at the same time!

The first hint that this wasn’t going to go as planned came when I realized that the recommended route from Silver Spring to Columbia wasn’t even close to the one I’d have taken. But I decided to follow the reassuring robotic female voice, because after all, all of this satellite technology probably knows a BETTER route, right? Then, as noted above, the voice instructed me to make a right on a street called Lime Kiln Road just as I was breezing past Lime Kiln Road (note that A. I am not a particularly fast or aggressive driver and B. it was raining, slowing me down even further, so even if it’s possible for my lightning speed to foil the satellite communication, that would not have happened this morning). Damn it.

“Recalculating” says the voice, and it directs me to make an upcoming right turn. Now I’m looking up every few seconds to check the screen to see how many tenths of a mile to go before said turn; so much for not needing to drive and read. I make the right turn, and I’m on a winding, 2-lane road with no shoulder. A deer runs out in front of me. I slow down and it darts back into the trees, only to pop back out in front of me again. I stop, knowing that deer are not known for super intelligence. It looks at me for a minute, turns as if to run to the other side of the road, then about-faces and runs in front of me again, finally disappearing into the woods whence it came. Stupid deer. Now I’m lost, and worried about colliding with more deer. I keep driving, and the voice instructs me to make a turn. Another winding, deer-infested near-country road. It’s pouring now. Fabulous! I’m following the directions, checking for how many tenths of a mile before the next turn, when I realize that I’m at an utter dead end. Not a newly-created dead-end unknown to satellites either…there was a sign and everything. Someone’s yard to the left of me, a double-ended arrow dead-end sign in front of me, and a fence separating the road from an expanse of wood to the right.

“Turn right” says the pleasant female voice.
“Go to hell, bitch-ass”, I say. I back out and turn around and I swear that there’s a little edge in her voice as she says “Recalculating”. “You’d better recalculate, ho”, I say. Bitch wants to get all attitudinous with me? Not today.

Drive drive drive, blah blah blah. We’re out of the woods (literally, but not in the metaphysical sense) and there’s a roundabout approaching. “Enter roundabout, and take first exit”. OK, I can do that.
I did do that.
Oh NO, bitch, oh no you DI’IN'!
“Take next exit”. OK, I take the exit. I follow more instructions, and we soon approach the same roundabout.
“Enter roundabout, and take first exit”. OK, now I see. The exit I took WAS the first exit, but it wasn’t quite IN the roundabout, it was just BEFORE the roundabout. So I take the SECOND exit I see, but the FIRST exit in the roundabout.

“Recalculating!” I’m SURE she’s suppressing a giggle. I’m not even going to repeat in writing what I said back. A torrent of obscenity, a few deep cleansing breaths, and I’m on the phone with my husband.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t pitch this thing out the window and back over it. Just one good reason.”

It’s understood in my family that getting lost provokes extreme anxiety for me, and lateness compounds the anxiety. He knows to handle my call gently, as he has made well-known his desire to remain married to me. “Everything OK? Are you lost?”
“YES! I’m LOST! This thing $%#%%#%%@&&&@&@&&&%%$$$!! If it had a human face, I’d slap it! I have 15 minutes! Get me out of here!”

Very sensibly, he didn’t argue or even attempt to defend his beloved device. (I may or may not have told him that he’d never see it in one piece again if he failed to acknowledge at that moment that it was a worthless piece of s***). He Mapquested me the hell out of there, and I got to my seminar ten minutes late, but five minutes before they actually started…few people had arrived at the scheduled start time due to the rain.

“Hon? Before you go in, be sure to throw the GPS in the trunk…people break into cars for those things all the time.”

I threw it into the trunk. It probably wasn’t necessary to tie it up and slap tape over the speaker, that part was just for fun.


FranIAm said...

OMG this is hilarious.

Except it probably was not when you were experiencing it.

Holy crap woman, too funny.

FWIW I got my first speeding ticket ever today. I am not happy.

enc said...

A brilliant account, with a great suspenseful feel. Thanks for sharing it!

Sauntering Soul said...

I can get lost pulling out of my driveway. I have a GPS and it has helped me out. However, there have been times when it has sent me around the world to go one mile. And I curse at it just like you. And I want to throw it out the window just like you.

This was hysterical!

P.S. Be sure you stop by my blog fairly soon....

CDP said...

Fran--exactly, it was very funny as I was writing about it, but NOT FUNNY AT ALL as it was occurring. (I heard about your speeding ticket, too...were your ears burning 30 minutes ago or so?)

enc--she's still tied up in my trunk. Shhhh.

SS--Did I win? Woo-hoo!

MichaƩle said...

Exactly why each time my husband (affectionately known to his friends as "Gadget Man") even utters the letters GPS, I change the subject. Oh heck ya: Lost + Late = Meltdown for me, too.

Fianna said...

Hilarious. Although it hits a bit close to home. I Hate the GPS we have. Which rhymes with Bom Bom, just so you know that they all stink. The man in my life loves it. He may be insane.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I drive with my husband I get all excited when the little package comes up on the screen. "MALL" - I scream all excited. I think he'll probably rip the thing out of the dashboard next time we're on a road trip.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha...very funny story CDP. But I have to wonder if that deer that kept darting in front of your car was messing with you.

CDP said...

Michaele--I'm glad I'm not the only one...it seems like such a silly thing to get so upset about, but I totally fall apart if I'm lost, and late added in means absolute breakdown.

Fianna--Welcome! They're all insane when it comes to technology...we'd have a 70 inch TV if my husband had his way.

Suze--ours doesn't do that!

Spartacus--it was totally messing with me.

Matt said...

Excellent post. I always enjoy laughing first thing in the morning. Gets the day started off right.

I bought my g/f one because she gets lost going to work. No I'm not kidding or trying to make a joke about female drivers. However, she never turns it on and I get the phone call that made to your husband while my 200 dollar is a window ornament.

Mine has yet to fail me. It may not take me the fastest way but it has yet to not get me where I was going. Mine is a Nuvi BTW.

Thanks for the laugh.


CDP said...

Matt--I'm glad it made you laugh! No, no inference about female drivers was made!

Dr. Zaius said...

Hee hee! Good story!

CDP said...

Dr. Z--as I told Fran, it was funny a few hours later!

pistols at dawn said...

I navigate the way my ancestors did: getting lost, and pretending that's where I was headed all along.

CDP said...

pistols--exactly. It's worked for me for years. I was moving to Wisconsin and I ended up in Maryland but I like it here, so who says our way isn't better?

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you were just a bit gleeful as you tossed that thing in the trunk, thinking to yourself "next time, paper."

When all else fails, you can do like I've done on my last couple of trips. When I get lost, I call MathMan and ask him to look it up on google maps. Then he walks me through it.

I get where I need to go AND I get fun commentary.

CDP said...

Dcup--"Gleeful" is exactly the word, I was cackling like a madwoman. I'll never stray from Mapquest again.

Jess Wundrun said...

We had a similar 'farmin' model. Our family loves to yell real loud "RE-Calc-YOO-la-TING"

That model was stolen in a window smash job in a hotel parking ramp in Milwaukee. Apparently the uninstalled variety are a 'hot' commodity right now, so be sure to put yours under the seat if you don't want it stolen, or on top of the hood if you don't want your window smashed.

Your husband and my husband would get along well. My husband puts the GPS on when driving (I kid you not)from his mother's house to ours, a 2-1/2 hour drive. I'm fairly certain that he doesn't need directions, but he likes to see the estimated time of arrival. I like to "accidently" unplug it.

CDP said...

Jess--mine does the SAME THING! He insisted on using it the last time we drove to the Dulles Air and Space museum, where we've been no fewer than 6 times (even I don't need directions to get there). They're all crazy.

dguzman said...

"follow the reassuring robotic female voice"--can't tell you how many jams doing this has gotten me into...

CDP said...

dguzman, you never fail to crack me up.

Wyldth1ng said...

So the womans voice is no Ann Margaret's?

CDP said...

Wyld--No, it's more nasal. Like Emily Litella. She's still in my trunk.

WendyB said...

That bitch started it!

BeckEye said...

I recently got a rental car and it came with that Neverlost GPS thingy. I tried it for the heck of it from the rental place back to my apartment and it tried to send me down a one-way street, do a U-turn on the highway and when the Brooklyn Bridge was right ahead of me, it told me to turn left.

As Michael Scott would say of GPS systems, "Computers are about trying to murder you in a lake."

Hmm, my word ver is "zropa." A bluer kind of white...

CDP said...

WendyB--exactly! I'm a nice person, but I'll go medieval when I need to.

BeckEye--I'm so glad I'm not the only one. Even though my husband was very reassuring on the phone, I still suspect that he thinks that it was me, and not the GPS.

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