Friday, April 22, 2011

Meet Gladys, Garmin!

I got into an argument the other day with the Garmin lady. You know, the one whose mechanical voice comes out of the GPS box? And, yeah, I’m not that blonde…I DO know she’s not a real person. But she can still be annoying from time to time.

We’ve used the GPS for a few road trips, but our habit has been to pop the thing on the windshield just as we’re heading out. Thus, I have spent many a frustrating moment in the passenger seat growling at the Garmin because I’m not really sure how to operate it.

So this time I decided to do a test run. I was near Cincinnati heading back to Columbus and I pretty much knew where I was going. I figured that once I made it to I-71 North, all I had to do was stay on that route until I hit Columbus. So I plugged in my destination and took off.

The Garmin lady, who I’ve christened Gladys because she reminds me of that annoying neighbor on Bewitched, was fairly helpful for about five minutes. She handled the first couple lefts and rights with aplomb and threaded me through traffic toward the exit for I-71N. I was pleased because it is usually those first complicated twists and turns that get me lost. So I was happy with Gladys and even thanked her for her assistance.

And then she got bossy.

Since it was early morning and I hadn’t gotten much sleep due to the wailing tornado sirens that woke us up at 1:30AM, I started searching for a McDonald’s so I could get a quick caffeine fix.

Gladys wasn’t happy with me when I veered off course. When she said “recalculating,” I thought it sounded a little snippy.

What’s worse is that, while I saw the towering Golden Arches from the freeway and turned left where McDonald’s was supposed to be, it wasn’t immediately visible. Sure, there was a Wendy’s. But I wasn’t sure if all Wendy’s locations had started serving breakfast – or if it was only a select few test stores.

As I drove along, Gladys continued to recalculate. Because Mickey D’s is usually right off an exit, I decided I’d explored that particular road long enough. When Gladys told me to turn right, I did as she commanded. And then she managed to direct me through some more side streets until we arrived at a main artery and I saw the sign for I-71N again, just as Gladys piped up with the same information.

Okay, Gladys, I thought, you win this one. I didn’t get my caffeine, but I also didn’t get lost. Left to my own devices, I would have wandered around suburbia for another 20 minutes before eventually (by chance) locating a main artery that would lead me back to the freeway. So thank you, Gladys. I appreciate your help

A few miles later when I decided I really needed a stop to feed and water myself, I saw another sign for McDonald’s. Yet again, Gladys protested. And recalculated. But this time, I saw the fast food joint immediately to the right and headed in that direction. Gladys kept trying to get me back on course, so by this time I was talking back to her. Out loud.

“I KNOW I’m off course, Gladys,” I said. “Just hold your horses. I’ll get back on I-71N in a minute – I swear!”

But did Gladys listen? Nooo. She can be very stubborn and inflexible. I briefly considered silencing her, but decided to put up with her for a few more moments. And, okay, it would have taken just as long for me to figure out where the volume control was as to put up with her recalculations.

But when I drove up to the window to pay, Gladys interrupted the drive-thru guy and started telling me where to go. This sort of interruption is very annoying to a person who only has one working ear since it’s impossible to hear two people at the same time.

Fortunately, I held my tongue and didn’t yell at Gladys, though I was tempted to tell her to shut up. I didn’t – but only because I don’t think I could’ve taken the pitying looks the guy from McDonald’s surely would have given me. But as soon as I drove away, believe you me, I gave Gladys a piece of my mind!

I think that put her in her place, too. Because for the next 89.1 miles, I didn’t hear a peep out of her.

She started yammering at me again as I drove into Columbus – on the very same route I’ve taken 5 days a week for the last 9 years. So I was rolling my eyes and saying, “Yeah, yeah – I know I need to take the Livingston exit, Gladys!”

But when I pulled up to my office safe and sound (and without getting lost), I decided to throw her a little compliment. I said, “Thanks, Gladys…you rock!”

And then I unplugged her.

Ah. Sometimes silence can be golden!

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