For years, drivers depended on many sources to guide them safely to destinations. They obtained free gas station maps, flappy guides destined never to fold into neat little rectangles again. Drivers asked guys at the pumps for directions, trusting honest faces and hard-working, dirty-nailed hands to point them the right direction. Or they stopped total strangers who had lived so long in a town, they forgot the names of the streets.
By default, they endured backseat drivers who dispensed a continual stream of advice.
Today’s drivers aren’t content with these tried-and-true resources that cost them nothing but their sanity. Instead, they pay for a Global Positioning System, or GPS — and regard it as God’s Positioning System.
Once, I traveled with a friend who depends on Lavinia, her GPS, for road directions, restaurant locations and tax advice. Like most of her species, Lavinia spoke with a civilized British accent. However, she appeared bipolar. Although 26 lanes of semitrailers blocked our path to an off-ramp, she repeated “Exit!” until we climbed over them.
She often insisted we turn onto airport runways. Occasionally, we encountered a road that in Lavinia’s mind did not exist, resulting in a panicked chorus of “recalculating … recalculating … recalculating!” accompanied by fits of screaming. Not unlike me the week before Christmas.
I offered Lavinia my estrogen, but she refused.
If only she possessed a more pleasant personality. I, like other directionally challenged people, might prefer a Mr. Rogers GPS.
MR. ROGERS: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I like you just the way you are.
ME: Thanks, Mr. Rogers. Can you help me find the BMV?
MR. ROGERS: That’s a tough one. But you can do anything, if you set your mind to it. Let’s turn right. Can you show me your right hand?”
ME: (raising both) I’m not sure.
MR. ROGERS: Can you count the number of smashed cars?
ME: No, but I can count the cars with flashing lights: one, two, three. …
MR. ROGERS: You’re so special.
Like other low-techies, I wonder if current generations soon won’t be able to find their bathrooms without a GPS. Do we ever stop to think global positioning systems find their locations per satellites — which line up their calculations with millions-of-light-years-away quasars and giant black holes?
Sorry, Lavinia. I know you have the best intentions in the universe.
But I can find black holes all by myself.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Would you rather ask directions or depend on a GPS?