Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Little GPS

Okay, so I know I'm years behind the curve. Hell, I still have boxes and boxes of LP albums, drawers full of cassette tapes, and, no, I don't own an IPod. So, how cool am I that I just paid my $10 monthly fee to activate my Blackberry Storm VZ Navigator!

I haven't a clue how any of us navigated our way around unknown territory before the invention of the GPS. I know all about maps and AAA TripTiks, but the latter are only good when you know in advance exactly where you want to go. There is no room for serendipity; no, it's a matter of getting from a predetermined Point A to Point B. That may be fine when traveling from, say, the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. But what if you need groceries for dinner and have no idea where the nearest supermarket is? What if the parking meters have eaten all your pocket change (a common event in the East Bay), and you're in desperate need of a bank where you can purchase rolls of quarters? The possibilities are endless but, without a GPS, you're plumb out of luck. Oh, you could roll down your window and ask a stranger or wait patiently by the side of the road until a friendly cab driver drives by. That's how it used to be done. But that was then, and this is now.

I'll be candid: I wasn't convinced some satellite circling a zillion miles out in space would give a rat's ass about little old me and my travels. So it was with a muttered "I hope this works" that I plugged in the address of my first destination, pressed Navigate, and waited for directions. Magically, Ms. Navigator (who today has been christened Ernestine and, yes, the "Laugh In" connection is intended) took it from there, telling me when to turn, when to go straight, how many miles before my destination. I had my own personal MapQuest. And when I made a wrong turn, she didn't scold me like some people I know but calmly said that she was recalculating directions. No need to panic; she had my back. Hell, she even let me know that there was traffic congestion up ahead and kindly offered to reroute me.

Ernestine's robot-like delivery can be a bit annoying, so I'll find out how to make her voice more soothing to match the confidence she gives me every time I turn on the car's ignition. "One ringy dingy, two ringy, dingys" and off I go!

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