Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don't Squeeze the Garmin

I thought the television program “Lost” was going to be a reality show, about a bunch of guys stranded on an island trying to get home. And the first one to crack and look at a map would get voted off. Boy was I disappointed when I saw the first episode, until I noticed an odd anomaly. Three-quarters of the cast were males . . . on a show titled “Lost” . . . coincidence? I think not.

I am lucky, my husband never gets lost. He just takes the scenic route. That is why he is always rushing me whenever we have to go anywhere; we never really know how long the drive is going to take. Going across town may take 2 hours--I can understand why he wants me to hurry.

I don’t think I would mind riding with a man who does get lost as long as he is willing to admit it. Let’s just be honest with one another—he gets lost and I look better with makeup on. See now, that wasn’t so bad. However, after 13 years we are still keeping up the charade—he pretends he knows where we are going and I pretend not to notice we have passed the same spot 3 times. To keep up the pretense my husband speaks in man-code when we are on a road trip. He will say things that have hidden meanings. Things like:

“Look at this beautiful scenery!” but what he really means is: None of this looks familiar.

“I think it is up around this next corner.” But what he really means is: I sure hope it is up around this next corner. Fingers crossed.

“Wow, look at that cloud, looks like rain.” That means: Great, now it is starting to get dark. Now I will never find it.

Sometimes he says, “There’s a deer.” In man code that means: I will create a diversion and she won’t realize that we are lost.

Or he will say, “I know where we are. You worry too much.” But really means: I sure wish I knew where we are.

When my husband says, “It sure is nice to get out on the open road and spend some quality time together;” what he really means is: I hope that she doesn’t try to shoot me with the emergency flare gun under her seat.

Because of our often eventful road trips and the unintelligible man code, I bought my husband a Garmin GPS device for his birthday. I was hoping it would cut down on the times we would have to take the “scenic route.” Things were going well the first few times he used it. A lilting woman’s voice came out of the device and said lovely things like: “Turn right in 2.8 miles” and “Go 1.4 miles and turn left” or “Estimated time of arrival 5 minutes.”

I was amazed, not just because it was so easy to use and follow the directions, but because it was the first time I had ever seen my husband actually listen to a woman’s voice. Everything was going along great until, one day; my husband saw a gravel road out of the corner of his eye. He yanked the steering wheel with considerable force and said the four most horrible words in the English language—“I know a shortcut.”

The next thing I know we are hurtling along an unpaved road with no name and no identifying landmarks. I was panicked, but the Garmin lady was unfazed. “Make a U-turn at the next intersection.” She remained calm while inside I was having flashbacks of a trip to a birthday party in which we ended up in the wrong county.

Garmin lady reiterated, “Off course, recalculating.”

All that my husband said was, “Its ok, this road isn’t in the map database. Don’t worry, I know where we are.” At that point, I saw my life pass before my eyes because the gravel road then turned into a packed dirt road. It turns out I didn’t need to be afraid of that road, because it was only a matter of minutes before that road became a dirt road with patches of grass and weeds growing up from the center of the lane.

“I don’t think we are going the right way.”
“Yes we are, it is just up past this ridge a ways and then down into that draw. Then lickety-split we will be back on the highway.”
“Turn left at the next intersection. Recalculating.”
“We aren’t even on a road.”
“Yes, we are. These tracks are a road.”
“For pioneers maybe, not for a minivan. There is a creek going over it.”
“A little water never hurt anyone.”
“Off course, recalculating.”

I sat like a stone for the next little while. Only moving to check my phone and see if I had cell reception, hopeful that I could call for help and be rescued from the lunatic behind the wheel. The silence was only broken by the Garmin lady periodically announcing we needed to turn around and resume course. I am not sure, but I sensed she was starting to panic too, since her requests to make a u-turn became more frequent.

As we rambled along we came to a huge open space where the road (read: tracks) ended and nothing was there but a wide open field. That is when the unthinkable happened. My husband yelled at Garmin lady. My only sane companion on this God-forsaken journey, and he was telling her to be quiet. I had to say something.

“Leave her alone!”
“Stop yelling at her, she is just trying to help.”

Then he hit Garmin lady with his hat and put the car in reverse. We turned around, heading back the way we came.

Garmin lady gave us directions the rest of the way, although she didn’t sound quite as spunky as before. I didn’t say anything for the rest of the trip, but when Garmin lady said “Turn right and arrive at destination” I thought I was going to cry.

We now have a new family policy regarding the Garmin: No one will poke, prod, squeeze, hit, or otherwise man-handle Garmin lady. She saved my life after all, it was the least I could do.


  1. Wow! I need one of those! Josh seems to have an in-built GPS unit. He can find anything I think!

  2. Bwaha! That is so funny! I love our GPS, but sometimes she gives some pretty weird directions. We call her Matilda. Sometimes Matilda will tell us to make a U-turn as we are traveling down the highway when I KNOW a U-turn is not needed, lol.

  3. Sonia I agree with you! I call her Joyce the voice and when Brian calls for directions I ask "what about Joyce the voice?" he tells me she doesn't know where she is going and I tell him to be nice to her! She has saved your butt more than once mister!!!

  4. Ha! So funny. The first time I used one of those I felt like I was in a 1984 novel. Big Sister is watching!

    tina v-p