Ode to my GPS

Disclaimer: For those of you who are actual English majors, poets or know-it-alls, I know this is not actually an ode. It’s just a title. I know what an ode is. I teach odes in depth. I’m just taking poetic license here. I also realize this is not, in anyway, even poetry (don’t get me started on prose poetry). I’m not a poet. In fact, it took me about 20 years to even like poetry.

Since I have so much traveling to do this summer (due to my fellowship), I figured it might be a good idea to get a GPS for my car. I went to Target, having no idea what I wanted and put myself into the hands of the pimply faced teen working in electronics. He told me he was supposed to push the pricier ones, but suggested I go for the cheap Tom Tom system as it was on sale and worked great. His honesty was enticing, so I scooped it up.

The day before my trip, I plugged my coordinates in and waited while it mapped out my trip. Because I’m a creature of habit, I also went to Mapquest and printed out some written directions…just in case. Since I’ve never had a GPS system before, I didn’t know what to expect. I was thrilled to find mine not only gave me colorful maps (and I got to pick the color patterns), but also spoke to me (and I got to pick the voice). I decided on the one I felt was most soothing–Mandy.

As I pulled out of my driveway, Mandy calmly told me to turn right. She then told me how long the trip from my door to the entrance to my neighborhood would be, and that I’d need to turn left. It was pretty cool. However, my trip hit a tiny snag because I had to make a quick stop at Walmart (the only store open that early) because I needed a double pronged cigarette plug to make sure my DVD and GPS would both work at the same time (the DVD player has a battery, but won’t fit in the case for viewing with the battery attached). I was super impressed when Mandy rerouted my trip with Walmart as my starting point (even though I knew how to get to the highway from there).

My trip was plotted at 11 hours and I knew with stops, it would be closer to 12. For the first 10 hours, Mandy kept me on track. Then, the highway split. Mandy clearly told me to keep right. So, I kept right. Turns out, she wanted me to keep in the right lane of the left split.She didn’t tell me that though. I’m guessing I was just supposed to know. Luckily, once I was off the highway, she led me on about a three minute trek back to the highway.

After that, things went like clockwork. Well, until the ride home.

Within 30 minutes of my trip, I came to another one of those splits. Mandy was screaming at me to keep right. The arrow was clearly pointing to the right. And there was even a sign over the right lane announcing the drawbridge coming up. I distinctly rememebered going over that bridge on my way in, so I got over to the right.

Once again, for all the yelling, Mandy didn’t want me to be in the right lane. And this time there was no easy fix. Mandy  had betrayed me. Instead of leading me back to the highway, she lead me into the heart of DC. I looked to my right and there was the Jefferson monument. A few minutes later, there was the Washington monument. She started barking at me to bear left, but keep right. This time, I’d figured it out. I almost ran a red light because I was so concerned about bearing left (and the streetlights are on the side of the road, not over it).

I expected to be lead back to the highway at any moment. Once again, my cruel electronic mistress betrayed me. I kept driving and driving. Bearing left and turning left, even seeing the highway, but not getting on it.

The minx lead me through tiny roads barely big enough for two cars. Neighborhoods with 25 mph signs. I drove through Georgetown and the Palisades. I drove and drove. I watched the estimated arrival time grow from 7:28 to 7:48. I began to panic a little.

Mandy lead down a tiny road, that looked like part of a neighborhood. She screeched at me to bear left. The only problem was that there were huge DO NOT ENTER signs starring at me. I knew I couldn’t go in, but I trembled at the thought of disobeying her again. At the last moment, I turned right, straight into a dead end turnaround and went back up the way I came. Mandy decided to be magnanomus and forgive me. She once again recalculated my route and sent me left.

I didn’t realize she was setting me up again. Not five minutes later, she ordered me to turn left. The problem? Another DO NOT ENTER sign with only two lanes of trafic, both of which were coming straight at me. So, I did the only thing I could, I turned left. Mandy sighed, cursed me and rerouted again. This time, she decided I was too stupid to play her games, so with only a few more simple twists and turns, including one through a national park, she  lead me to the highway.

It added 20 minutes to my drive, several tears to my cheeks and possibly a year onto my life, but then Mandy decided she’d had enough of my foolishness and led me straight home.

Of course, anytime I tried to contradict it and get off the highway for food, gas or the bathroom, Mandy continued to bark at me, but I made sure to note which way the highway lay, and was quick to get the car back in the right direction to appease her.

I hope there are no splits on the way to Canada!

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Filed under bad days, bad drivers, products, ramblings, travel, what makes me me

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