At the Mercy of the GPS (or Why I Carry Maps)

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:

My parents love their GPS and make sure to take it with them whenever headed out of town. Their reasons are two-fold: Obviously, the device is designed to give directions but, it’s also entertaining when, upon the driver’s failure to follow a voice prompt, the GPS sighs an exasperated “Recalculating.” My folks are forever generously offering to share their GPS with me when I travel. While I have accepted on at least one occasion I am not as sold on the satellite nav as they. Having been burned one too many times by Google directions I’m less inclined to place my faith anywhere but in my own ability to read an old-school road map.

Turns out I’m right to be wary. Yahoo News recently reported on a Belgian woman who relied on her GPS to help her reach a location 90 miles away. Two refuelings, two countries, and one long night sleeping in the car later, she realized the GPS had sent her 900 miles in the wrong direction.  900 miles!  Granted, she could have paid more attention to the road signs, which switched languages a few times, and the clock. But the fact remains that somewhere, whether it was GPS or operator error, communication broke down.

So, I will continue to haul my parentals’ GPS with me when I leave our tiny valley with the intention of responding to any of its failures  with my own amused version of “Recalculating.”  And if you wonder why I project being able to laugh in the face of being lost, look no further than the neatly folded back-up plan in the glove box.


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