By Pat Newman
Thank God for my Cub Scout Leader’s training, or I would be abysmally lost in this tech-savvy world. Give me a compass, map, or a night sky with a guiding star, and I can travel from point A to point B. Tell me to log onto Google maps or follow my GPS (Goofy Piloting Set-Up), and you will need to follow-up with an APB (All Points Bulletin). I have tried to navigate with impersonal voices telling me where to turn and printed directions sending me down streets under construction. It’s a hit or miss situation.
Just the other day, I typed my Marco Island address into Google requesting driving directions to Mackle Park. (I was looking for a shortcut.) I was instructed to turn left onto Winterberry, turn right onto Sandhill, take the first left onto Galleon, take a right onto Worthington and the first left onto Honeysuckle. DEAD END. I could see Mackle Park; I just couldn’t drive there. Was Google joking? If I had taken the easy route down Winterberry and turned left onto Heathwood and right onto Andalusia, I would have arrived five minutes sooner for my scheduled appointment without making two U-turns.
But this little side trip was nothing compared to my nine-hour journey to Asheville, NC, from Gainesville, FL, via Tennessee. It was my first experience utilizing GPS on my smart phone. My 24-year-old son was riding shotgun and programmed the route. Five miles from home, this extremely demanding female voice directed me to turn right onto Hwy. 50. “How does she know where I am?” I asked my son, suddenly startled that some disembodied voice was telling me what to do. I don’t like anybody telling me what to do, so I immediately took offense at this invisible intruder. “It’s a satellite,” he explained patiently. It took me a minute to let this information sink in. “So the satellite is tracking me?” “Yes,” he replied, hoping this information would be helpful.
Never one to take facts at face value, I began making random turns through North Florida and Georgia, prompting the satellite lady I named Sally, to interrupt my maneuvers with instructions to return to Route 50, Interstate 75, or the state of mindful driving. My son had already inserted his ear buds and was listening to anyone but me or Satellite Sally. It was only when the sun began setting and we honked at the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign that he became alarmed. “Mom, how much farther?” “Grab that map folded in the glove box; I’ll tell you after I pull over.”
Three more hours and we arrived at the KOA Campground safe and sound. Satellite Sally got tossed onto a random runaway truck ramp along the way, and the map was neatly folded and returned to the glove compartment.
It only takes me a half-dozen tries before I give up on experimental methods of doing things. Faulty directions to Mackle Park was number six. I am done. Hand me a divining rod.