She fit in the cupholder, a square box with a map on the front and a voice that kept telling me what to do. She was so insistent. “Turn right.” “Turn right.” “Turn right.” And I’d be a mile away from an exit ramp saying, “No, I can’t.” But did she listen? “Turn right.” Or, “Stay left. Stay left.” And I’d be as left as I could get.
My first experience with a GPS device occurred this last weekend when I flew to Sacramento to give a talk at the Sacramento branch of California Writers Club. I had no time to spare by the time I got to the front of the rental car line. When I mentioned that I hoped I didn’t get lost because I was supposed to give a speech in an hour, the woman offered me a GPS. Yes!
I lay part of it on the dash, set the box beside me, and typed in the address. The voice, whom I dubbed Guinivere, got me there 10 minutes early. I had directions printed out from Google, but it was easier to listen to a voice than to try to read, especially when five different freeways presented themselves at once. G. calmly told me which lane to be in and where to turn. I listened and said, “Yes, ma’am.”
But when I set her for my dad’s house in San Jose, a destination for which I don’t need directions, she kept telling me to turn off the freeway at places where I would only find trouble and traffic. Thus we dialogued.
“Recalculating. In one point two miles, exit right.”
I kept that poor woman recalculating from Fremont to San Jose, but she was with me when I turned into the driveway. “Arrived at destination,” she said as my father came out the door. I gave her an affectionate pat on the screen. “Thanks.”
Back in my own car in Oregon after a great weekend, I kind of missed that persistent voice. I didn’t need directions, but I could have used the company. Guinivere might not always be right, but when I don’t know where I’m going, it’s nice to have someone beside me who can recalculate.