Jeff Spicoli, the surfer/stoner played by Sean Penn in the classic teen film Fast Times at Ridgemont High did not realize that he was headed for trouble when he said those fateful words……….“I’m driving. You navigate.”
Navigation. It can be essential. But a few summers ago, during a family road trip, our navigator failed us.
The GPS was directing us to a “Point of Interest,” and in this case it was an Olive Garden. The computer voice confidently told us to make a right turn off of the interstate and we were ready to obey. But when I looked to the right, there was nothing but wall. No exit ramp……..just wall……and wall……and more wall.
One of the travelers in our car had been complaining about needing a bathroom break for over an hour and this particular traveler started to show irritation. As the computer voice continued to confidently state “Exit Right Now,” this family member began to emote.
Our GPS unit is named Pippa. She gives us driving directions in a firm and oh-so proper British accent with perfect diction that would have made Professor Henry Higgins proud. We named her Pippa for the sister of the Princess of Wales, since we love to imagine that someone as high-bred as Kate Middleton’s sister could be giving us the turn-by-turn directions and helping us along. We considered naming the GPS after Julie Andrews instead, but we all know that Dame Julie Andrews would never stoop so low. After all, Julie Andrews was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II way back in the year 2000. Pippa, on the other hand, is new royalty.
So as I looked at the WALL, I gritted my teeth further and yelled “Damn you Pippa! What’s wrong with you, Pippa? Where’s the exit, Pippa?!……It’s a wall, Pippa….a WALL!”
So the family member in need of a bathroom was in fact…..me! And at this point, in my frustration, I began to entertain thoughts that Pippa…..the Pippa that I thought was so sweet and kind and caring…… that very Pippa was clearly trying to murder us!
As Pippa’s even, but demanding voice told us to “Turn Right NOW” once again, my always calm and apparently strong bladdered husband Joe came to the rescue. From the space between the front seats, Joe produced the Rand McNally Road Atlas.
And Pippa’s evil plot was thwarted, just like that!
Now for the record, I like maps….atlas maps and paper road maps. And in fact, I prefer them to the GPS in most situations. Maps give me an overview of the entire area and allow me to anticipate what’s coming up, minutes or hours in advance.
Plus, maps are just plain cool. Maps are a record of an area and they are a snapshot of a particular moment in time. You can put a map from 1950 and a map from 2000 side by side and you will see progress and change right before your eyes. Put a map of Asia from 1950 next to one from 2000 and you will see political upheaval and rebirth.
I love doing craft projects using old maps. Those old maps deserve to be remembered and a simple set of coasters or a bowl from a map can keep an old map alive.
But let’s face it….when it comes to driving, paper maps are just not always practical. Without a copilot, drivers have difficulty trying to view a map and if you’re over forty, switching from your driving glasses to your reading glasses while steering can also be tricky!
So sometimes, a GPS can be superior. Of course, you have to be alert to make sure your GPS is on the right track, but ultimately, you can just program in your destination and then keep your eyes on he road. And like Spicoli, you can say to your GPS, “I’m driving, you navigate.”
And unless your GPS is formulating a maniacal or evil plan, you should be okay. But if you are worried, try that old paper map. In all my years, a road map has never once plotted against me!
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