Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Road To Hell is Paved With Good Intentions, and a GPS Can Take You There!

There used to be something wonderful for me about technology. Not that I know terribly much about it. But I loved the thought that I could have a small hand-held phone device thingy that allowed me to make phone calls, send emails, and take pictures. I love my new digital camera that takes such amazing pictures (or at least it would if I knew how to work the damn thing!) It’s just really cool that we live in an age where anything and everything we could ever want is at our fingertips. But one of the great philosophers, I think it was Stephen King, said that what makes us more tech-savvy also wants to kill us. Or words to that effect.

By nature, I am so bass-ackwards that I still marvel at Mapquest. Log on to the computer-thingy, type in your address and destination, and whammo! You have driving directions! Which is great if you constantly get lost driving to your mailbox, as I do, or if you are some freakazoid stalker, as, well, someone else. Anyway, imagine my delight when my husband brought home a GPS for the car!

GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and it’s designed to sit in your car like a small TV screen that tells you how to get to point A to point Z and all points in-between. This technology was designed by the Department of Defense so you can trust that it’s absolutely spot-on in getting you where you need to go, in the event that where you need to go is the front lines of battle in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anyway, Jerry brought home this little marvel of modern technology and insisted that he, Jenda, and I all bundle into the car to drive somewhere that we already knew how to get to so that we could see it in action.

Of course it not only shows you maps and directions. It also talks in several languages, including English, English with a British accent, Spanish, French, and Farsi, in case you are needed in Afghanistan. Jenda was enthralled at the new talking gadget and immediately christened it ‘Fletchen.’ Fletchen took us to all sorts of interesting places, like Wal-Mart, the grocery store, and back to our house. I was really trying to seem impressed, but I reminded Jerry that Fletchen’s prowess was no biggie to me since I already knew how to get to all of those places. Take me to the place where money grows on trees, or they’re giving away free Coach purses! Hah, take that, Fletchen!

Jerry was a bit crestfallen. “She is a wonderful timesaving device, and a money saver as well. We won’t have to waste paper printing maps off the internet, and we won’t have to stop when we’re traveling to buy maps anymore. She’s like a member of our family!”

That’s great! Tell her to straighten up the kitchen. And finish the laundry.

Well in no time, Jerry and Fletchen became like Calvin and Hobbs. Actually, they became more like Romeo and Juliet. I noticed that every time I would ride somewhere with Jerry, Fletchen tagged along. And suddenly, she was all super nice to Jerry, fastening his seatbelt for him and complimenting his driving skills. But I ignored her, and ignored the signs. Then one day, I could no longer turn a blind eye to the obvious.

Fletchen had fallen in love with Jerry! And, she was trying to kill me!

I know this seems crazy, but it’s true! One day, I needed to go somewhere and there was heavy construction on I-40, so I started to map out an alternate route when Jerry suggested that I take the GPS. “She’ll get you there in no time,” he beamed, so I stupidly agreed. I didn’t really suspect anything until I got on some back-road in the middle of nowhere. I saw my turn coming up and I heard a voice say “In point three miles, turn left. Your thighs are fat.”

I wasn’t sure I heard correctly. I thought perhaps it was just fatigue since I had been driving for what seemed like hours. Then, I made my turn, and Fletchen said, “In one point four miles, turn right. That’s an ugly blouse.”

Now I KNEW it was not my imagination. I happened to be wearing a very cute blouse. OMG, I thought, I’m out here in the middle of nowhere with this crazy gadget and she’s the only one who knows where I am! Oh dooky! I began driving toward any sign of civilization, trying not to panic. But Fletchen was mocking me. “Jerry loves me! Bwuhahaha! Your roots are showing! Your handbag doesn’t match your shoes! HAHAHA!”

Then, she said, “Turn left now to arrive at final destination.” And she would have been correct, since a left turn would have taken me over the edge of a fifty foot drop down into a granite-filled ravine! I sped up until I could find some sign of life. I finally saw a small country store, pulled in, ripped ‘Christine’, er, Fletchen loose from the dashboard and threw her in the trunk. Then I asked for directions and made it to my appointment, terribly shaken up but alive and in one piece.

I had only one other encounter with Fletchen when I let Jerry take my car to get the engine serviced and we had to switch cars. I honestly forgot about her, plotting my demise in the glove compartment of Jerry’s car until I agreed to give one of my colleagues a ride home from work. If you are a native Floridian, and you are not used to driving in North Carolina, do not EVER, under any circumstances, agree to do this. One of the things that I miss about South Florida is that for the most part, it has been worn flat by years of back-to-back hurricanes. All of the streets are laid in a grid, so you are either traveling north/south or east/west. Or vice versa. At any rate, it’s pretty easy to navigate. Here in North Carolina, everything goes in a circle. So if you are traveling north and want to go west, you don’t go to the left. You exit to the right, travel east for several miles, and then eventually you loop around and you’re going west. Oh, and all of the streets here have multiple names. Like multiples of ten.

So here I was, driving in Greensboro in a part of town that I did not remotely recognize, and I had no idea where I was or how to get home. It occurred to me then that Fletchen was in the car. Of course, she would probably try to kill me, but maybe if I played my cards right, I could make it home alive. I pulled over, hooked up Fletchen, and laid down the law, jilted-lover style.

Look, Gadgety Personal Stepford-wife. I need to get home to Jerry and you’re gonna have to help me get there! I know he loves you more then he loves me, but if you don’t get me home, there won’t be anyone to cook him a hot meal and rub his tired feet. We’re a team, okay?

“Okay. You are still a fashion disaster with thunder thighs, but we’ll get home to tend to Jerry’s needs.”

And true to her word, she got us home. As for cooking and foot-rubbing thing? It was all a lie. But let’s face it, all’s fair in love and war. Jerry has probably ratted me out about it so I am now sleeping with one eye open and trying not to get within fifty feet of Fletchen, the GPS from Hell. Of course, she’s plotting her revenge and I wouldn’t put anything past her. So if you see me on the road somewhere with a GPS thing wrapped around my head screaming at me in several different languages and trying to kill me, don’t attempt to disarm her yourself! Call for help. Try to get my husband Jerry to calm her down.

Better yet, call Stephen King. Might as well get an expert!

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