Sunday, November 25, 2007

On the Road

“Do you know where you’re going?”


“Do you know how to get there?”


“Are you sure?”


“Well, you just missed your exit.”

“What? Where?”

“Back there. About a mile. You missed your exit ‘cause you were listening to the Beatles and you can’t get Back to the U.S.S.R. from here.”

“Why didn’t you say something a mile ago!”

“You said you knew where you were going.”

Have you ever been in this situation? Yeah, you know where you’re going but you get distracted, pulled back to Woodstock or whatever and time and distance just drifts by. Before you know it you’re past the turnoff and heading to Who Knows Where.

Yes, we’ve all done that. And, to make matters worse, you’ll never be allowed to forget that momentary lapse of attentiveness.


Years from now it will be, “Remember that time you missed the exit and we ended up in Moscow?”

Well, I’m glad to say those days are over! Yes, thanks to the good people at Garmin you can know how to get somewhere, not pay attention and STILL get there!

I just bought a Garmin Nuvi navigator and I’m here to tell you it’s a wonderful little device. About the size of a serving of meatloaf, the Nuvi comes loaded with maps of major cities, highways, restaurants, gas stations and all sorts of useful information for the traveler.

Need an IHOP? Nuvi’s got you covered!

I was a little hesitant about buying a personal navigator because, you see, I’m a map guy. I navigate by maps just like Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake. Give me a map and I’ll get there. Eventually.

Ask directions? HA! and Double HA! NEVER! Let some other weak sap ask directions but not me. I’ll consult my chart, sacrifice a sparrow to the gods and make sail for the fo’castle. Whatever that is.

And that’s the beauty of the Garmin Nuvi, you don’t have to ask for directions! You simply type in your destination, press the GO button and the Nuvi does the rest. Here’s a sample.

Nuvi says, “Proceed 2 miles and turn left.”

How cool is that?

“Proceed 2 miles and turn left” instead of “Where are you going? Aren’t you going too fast?”

The best thing about a Nuvi is that you can take a shortcut and it doesn’t get all bent out of shape. For example, suppose you turn off the indicated route to go through a neighborhood because you want to look at Christmas lights or check out a new park.

Nuvi says, “Recalculating. Proceed one mile then turn left.” Nuvi simply takes the detour in stride and calculates a new route.

Compare that to the human navigator who is likely to say, “Why’d you turn? Where are you going? This is out of our way. Do you think we own an oil company? We’ll get lost in this neighborhood and they’ll never find us.” And so on.

The electronic navigator is never wrong, always polite and is infinitely patient. Take a zillion detours and the Nuvi will announce “Recalculating” a zillion times. It never gets tired of “recalculating” and it will always get you to your destination.

But, you know, after using the electronic navigator for a few months I sort of miss the banter that only comes from a human navigator. Where’s the excitement of taking a wrong turn on purpose just to jack up the navigator if the navigator takes in stride and says, simply, “Recalculating.” There’s no sport.

So, I think the electronic navigators need some preferences that you can set to give the device a personality. I’d suggest general settings like Uncaring, Concerned and Paranoid, to give a general range.

Click Uncaring and take a detour.

“Oh, you’ve departed from the designated route. Whatever. Let me know if you drive into a river or something.”


“Ah, that was unexpected. You should be going east but now you’re going south. Unless you return to the designated route this will take us to Mexico. ¿Hablan español?”


“What are you doing? Are you nuts? You always do this to me! How am I going to find my way back? Can’t you follow simple directions? We’re all going to die!”

The ultimate, though, would be a model that you could set to a profile but override with a button. That would be cool.

“Why are we going this way? We were going east and now we’re going south. We’ll have to turn left somewhere to get back to the main road. You always do this to me! Why can’t you just stay on the road. Now we’re going to be late. How you ever got a driving license I’ll never know.”


“Recalculating. Proceed one mile then turn left.”

Yeah, that would be cool.


Tom said...

I have been completely replaced by this navigaton system, "Daniel" is his name. You're daughter will even set it when I KNOW where I am going, just to make sure. Let's see how he navigates with a can of Pepsi on him...

Former Novice Alaskan said...

We love our Garmin! It goes on every trip we take now. I was going to dig out maps for our Thanksgiving sojourn and was laughed at. BTW - you can confuse it enough with wrong turns it will tell you to drive though the median or give up. I've been there!