Normally, I am not one to rebel against authority. This past weekend, however, I didn't simply question orders; I blatantly defied them.
I stuck it not to The Man, but to the British-American female named Tina, also known as my portable GPS.
Tina tried to direct me to Pittsburgh, a major metropolis easily accessible by three major interstates, via two lane roads through central Pennsylvania. I love the state of Pennsylvania dearly, but I was really not in the mood to take a scenic route through the magical land of adult superstores and woodland creatures to reach my final destination. Thankfully, after spotting some dirt roads and almost plowing over the Easter bunny, I realized something was off, looked at a map and went the right way.
Tina was not amused. Her once pleasant British tone got exceedingly icy every time I refused to take an exit, every successive "recalculating" colder than the next. Then, all hell broke loose when in its efforts to reroute, the GPS changed from Tina to Claude, who only spoke French. Mon dieu.
I am a completely competent, licensed driver; this story is not unique to me. In fact, once I started paying attention, I noticed that a significant chunk of the people I passed once I got on a legitimate paved road were staring at their dashboards with a mixture of desperate frustration and puzzlement.
First and foremost, this is not safe. Screw cell phone laws; banging on a touch screen while trying to exit the highway, typing in an address and changing Tina to Claude is way more distracting than a phone call. Buckle up, satellites are steering!
Second, it's obnoxious. The beeping and weird accents are obnoxious. The dumb drivers who are going five under in the left lane trying to mess with their gadgets are even more obnoxious. I will get in Bert, my big boat of a Buick, pass you, stick my tongue out at you and be a mile ahead of you before you even look up and realize that your GPS has taken you to Rochester, Minn. instead of Rochester, N.Y.
Finally, does anyone else see the ridiculous parallel here between drivers blindly following their GPS and those dumb Dodo birds in Ice Age that follow each other off a cliff, ultimately dooming them to extinction? Darn, someone else turned left off of that precipice again. Those people at Garmin must have an interesting sense of humor.
Moral of the story? Figure out where you're going beforehand. Directions really aren't that hard, I promise. If all else fails, the sun sets in the west, figure it out from there. Realize that no one, not even you, super speedy adrenaline boy, or you, perky ponytail phone girl, are experienced or focused enough not to direct every single bit of your attention to the road.
Getting distracted is a choice; if you mess up on the road the GPS doesn't have a "take the blame" button. Best case scenario? You meet my Buick in Minnesota. Worst case? Dodo bird.