I have always had a problem finding my way around; it doesn’t matter whether I am walking, driving, or on public transportation, I manage to get lost. However, when I purchased a GPS navigation device, I thought my wandering days would be a thing of the past. Most of my trips are by automobile, so I looked forward to the possibility of driving to places I had previously avoided. I decided to call my GPS unit Gypsy. She would be my best friend forever; I would never leave home without her.
Several of my friends commended me for making such a wise purchase; so, I thought it odd that they told me to keep a map in the car. If I could read a map, I probably would not need a GPS, which is the acronym for global positioning system. Furthermore, having a map, for me, just meant I would spend more time being lost—while attempting to read the map. I mounted the unit in a special place on my dashboard. Actually, it was the most convenient place, but I wanted Gypsy to think I had gone out of my way to make sure she was safe and comfortable; after all, we would be taking lots of fun trips together. I know this sounds strange, but over the years, electronic gadgets have actually taken on personalities; therefore, I thought it was ok to talk about my GPS as though it were a person.
My first trip with Gypsy was to my mom’s house. I knew how to get there, but I wanted to hear the cheerful voice that would be directing me to places that I, previously, had not dared to go. After I entered my mom’s address, Gypsy’s friendly voice began to give me directions. The route we took was not the one I was used to, but no problem; I was confident that Gypsy would get me to mom’s house, using the best route. After a short time, and a few turns, I heard the announcement that I had arrived at my destination; surprisingly, I was in front of my own house. Of course, I assumed that the device had malfunctioned. I rechecked the information I had entered; everything looked fine. Then I figured out what the problem was—I had, inadvertently, entered my own address. With a quick, smooth motion, I turned the unit off. I did not want my new best friend to know that I had made such a dumb mistake; I resumed the trip to my mom’s house, without any assistance from Gypsy. I suddenly thought of a science fiction movie I had seen, where the computer took control of its operator. After thinking about the possibility of Gypsy taking over my car, I actually laughed out loud.
Even though I felt good about having the GPS to help me navigate to unfamiliar places, my fear of getting lost did not go away. In fact, I was afraid that Gypsy would direct me to a location, and then not know how to find its way out. I became so paranoid that I would not listen to the directions from Gypsy; unfortunately, on those occasions, I got lost. Of course, when that happened, I would wait for Gypsy to recalculate and put me back on course.
The GPS unit came with a number of useful features; the one that appealed to me most was the trip simulator. I thought, if I used it to preview the route, I would feel at ease when it was time to make the actual trip. That was not the case; unfortunately, after going through the route on the simulator, I became confused and nervous. On more than one occasion, I cancelled the intended trip because… yes, I became paranoid about making the trip. Nevertheless, I was confident that Gypsy would, eventually, make my trips fun and relaxing; therefore, I did not give up. I was determined to start following the directions exactly as they were given. I just needed to relax, listen, and allow Gypsy to be my guide.
Another feature on the GPS unit, allows the user to pick a vehicle that would be displayed on the screen during the trip. I picked a red Corvette; I had never driven one, so I thought it would be cool to have it on the screen. That was not a good idea. I decided it would be better if I saw my own vehicle on the screen; therefore, I changed the display avatar to a blue minivan, identical to mine. I know this sounds crazy, but I needed to see the little blue minivan always in the exact location as mine. If there is ever a glitch in the system that would cause the vehicle displayed on the screen to disappear, I would reach the highest point on the paranoia scale—if there is such a scale.
At some point, the friendly voice of the Gypsy made me feel relaxed, but whenever she was silent, I still panicked. Since I have no logical thought process when I am driving to unfamiliar places, it took me awhile to figure out that Gypsy only talks when there is a change in the route. Again, having the blue minivan displayed on the screen assured me that my friend, Gypsy, was still there to direct me to my intended destination.
In spite of my paranoia while traveling, Gypsy took some of the worry out my driving trips; as well, I saved money on gas. Prior to having my GPS, I would drive miles and miles off of my intended course. Sometimes I would end up is suburbs that I would not have been able to find if I wanted to; so, being lost sometimes led to discovery. Once, before I purchased the GPS, I got lost in a nearby subdivision; after about 25 minutes of driving around in circles, I asked a resident to lead me back to the main street. The trip home, from there, only took me about ten minutes. I’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine; that day, I laughed, off and on, for the entire trip home. I laughed even more when I got home and told my husband about the incident.
Though it is obvious why I need my GPS, I am embarrassed about my ineptness when it comes to traveling by automobile. Admittedly, I am even more embarrassed that the incidents I described really happened to me. But I am happy to say that my automobile trips have become more relaxing, and I actually look forward to driving to new places. Gypsy is truly my best friend forever. The one thing I can depend on is, no matter how far off course I go, and no matter how obnoxious and angry I become; the cheerful voice of my friend, Gypsy, will always recalculate—and then tell me exactly where to go.