‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm afraid I can't do that, Jane

One bright morning we decided to explore the countryside. And then we got lost.

As long as we were lost, we thought we might try to get lost in Annapolis. We've heard Annapolis is a lovely place to be lost in - literally and possibly metaphorically - although since the Naval Academy is there it's probably not like being lost in Boulder or Berkeley.

Since we were already out and about and could not be bothered to go get an atlas, we decided we'd bite the bullet and get a gps. I happened to know where there was a Best Buy, so off we went.

Except I got us lost on the way to Best Buy, so we went to Target.

We purchased a TomTom and typed in our destination while we sat in the garage. It looked for a route to Annapolis while we looked for a route out of the parking garage. It was successful first. Sort of.

Although we were still in a place where I kind of knew my way around, I switched off my brain and let Chris follow Jane's instructions (we chose a British voice, named Jane. She's very civilized and kept telling us to take the motorway). The next thing we knew, we had reached the end of the road and were facing a lovely little footbridge and a pedestrian path that led through the woods. We were surprised at Jane's instructions to go straight and stay left. I mean really, does she not know us at all? We are in an opposite marriage (I just learned that term on NPR - before which I thought an opposite marriage was a divorce). We were both wearing jeans and comfortable footwear. How can our sociopolitical leanings be more abundantly obvious?

We found our way back out to the highway, despite Jane's protests, and were on our way. Once on the highway she accepted her fate and altered the route to compensate for our unwillingness to cut through the neighbor's back yard.

A few times, I watched the display as the Vespa which represented us jumped off the highway and went joy riding through rolling pastures. Is it possible that Jane was mapping the gps coordinates of our psyches instead of our physical whereabouts? That would explain a lot. It would explain why she took us off the highway and led us on a merry chase through a particularly groovy bit of D.C., filled with restaurants and shops.

It is possible that when you first plug in a new gps unit, it cannot be trusted.

We had put off this purchase for moral and philosophical reasons. We know that unused skills atrophy. We just didn't know that they atrophy in a matter of minutes.

We found Jane especially helpful when we were walking. This is when we were at our most exasperating. We'd see something we wanted a closer look at and wander off course from time to time. Jane tried her best to set us straight, and we expected at any moment for her to say "this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye." We also considered the possibility of getting a different voice altogether. The different voice would politely explain that we had driven Jane to drink and they had shipped her off to detox. I don't know what gps units drink, but I bet Jane was looking for one after a day with us.

I wonder how she'll find it.

9 comments:

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Oh lord. My parents have one of those they always bring with them on trips. I HATE that thing. It can never find its way around here.

But the fun part of it? They use the "Jane" voice, too, and when she gets lost? We all get to chorus, "Jane, you ignorant slut." From SNL, remember? Good times.

Dana's Brain said...

The next time we take a driving trip we might have to cave and get one.

My parents just got one - they named her Fiona, since they decided they are most likely not going to have a granddaughter named Fiona. Whatev, 'Rents!

Rose Brier Studio said...

I have avoided gps systems although I get lost everywhere. I've even gotten lost in Osterville. But I know that the voice, whichever one I chose, would drive me so nuts that I would end up throwing him or her out the window.

Celia said...

We chose a British voice for the GPS too and named her Sally. She is always telling me to enter the roundabout.

JAbel said...

I once had one in a rental during the early years and though we were in Melbourne FL. every time I turned it on we started out in the Atlantic off Miami Beach.I do like the voices thing though.I'd love one with Grandpa Simpsons old Jewish buddy from the nursing home.

Nora said...

I have only used one once and it was always saying "you are off route". I wanted to throw it out the window.

The Whispering Poppies said...

Well it is a small world indeed! I guess there's cause for some serious blog-banter on Sunday mornings now. And I know who you are (that is not intended to sound scary), but I can tell from your style of writing you attended Prin. (And the "trout" references I found here are a giveaway.)

The man of the house won't invest in a GPS (though he knows I could REALLY benefit from one). To prevent unwanted sidetrips, I just "GPS" myself (Go Places Slowly).

Lisa said...

We have a Garmin named Alice and she has changed my life. I never had the skills to begin with, and now I can sally forth into the world with so much more confidence. I love her, I do.

Susan said...

Kristin - I can't believe we didn't think of that. I'm so disappointed in us.

Dana - I like the name Fiona, except wasn't she the ogre bride in Shrek? Given the choice between a gps and an ogre bride granddaughter, I'd take the gps.

Rose - That's funny, we were worried Jane would throw US out the window!

Celia - Yes! We entered many roundabouts. They have a lot of roundabouts in D.C.

Jabel - Marge's sisters would be a good choice, too.

Nora - ours didn't tell us we were off route. Maybe the voice she chose was a more Affirmation Parenting sort? We heard "turn a left, then, turn left" a lot.

Whispering Poppies - I knew you'd figure it out quickly!