Attack of the GPS – How my GPS tried to kill me!

In ten miles, turn left onto Oak Street, then keep right. Rerouting! What? I just did what you said you idiot! The preceding sentence is an example of the types of conversations I typically have with my navigation system. Needless to say we get into a lot of arguments. As a university recruiter I drive thousands of miles each month, and being directionally challenged I rely heavily on my GPS which I affectionately call Chin-Chin. Chin-Chin and I go way back, and together have logged over 40, 000 miles. It has been forty thousand miles of laughter and tears, and sometimes some of the most profanity laden conversations one could ever have with an inanimate object. It is not that Chin-Chin does not do a good job, it is just that I expect her to stay up-to-date regarding route changes and new street constructions. Not to mention that I spend hours every 3 months assisting her in getting a map update online.

Over time she has become worn, and while she once spent hours conversing with me on a single charge, she now has to constantly stay plugged into a charging source. Of the hundreds of places I have been, she has been incorrect about 10% of the times, which is enough to give me a high blood pressure. The thing is I hate being wrong, once I plan my route I want to reach at the appointed time as shown as ETA (estimated time of arrival) and always hope there is no delay. In most cases I am on a time constraint, so getting lost is never an option. Not to mention that I find it exhilarating the more I speed and shave at least a minute off of the ETA (hey some times it’s the small things in life that give us reasons to celebrate). On one occasion my decision to push the limits of the ETA led to a hefty fine of $250 from a police officer that apparently did not like my efforts.

In the summer of 2010 I was making the journey from Dallas, Texas to Houston. It was to be a drive of approximately 4 hours. Like any other time, I gave Chin-Chin my destination information and she calculated my route in less than a minute. With smiles and a full tank of gas I set out on my four hour long journey. I listened to music along the way, always making sure to adhere to any information that Chin-Chin decided to share. It did not take long for Chin-Chin and I to begin having our usual disagreements. Approximately one hour into the trip, Chin-Chin decided to take me on an off road that ran adjacent to the well paved highway to my left. Confused by her actions, I yelled “what the hell are you doing?” She persisted almost as if ignoring my question. I became furious, I immediately began to create my own route to get back on the highway. Chin-Chin would not have it, every turn I made she echoed “rerouting.” Annoyed by her constant chatter, I told her to shut up (perhaps not so nicely, but you get the point). Eventually I got back on the highway, and she decided to corporate and get back on track.

About 9 p.m. that evening, approximately 3 hours into my journey, Chin-Chin decided she was going to take her revenge on me for our earlier encounter. “In 300 ft, make a U-Turn.” By now I had no idea where I was located, and so I had no option but to listen to her demands while I secretly questioned the rationality of heading north when my destination was definitely to the south. “In half a mile turn right onto County Road 200.” Immediately upon turning right I felt the car jerk furiously indicating that I was no longer on a well paved road, “Continue on this road for 2 miles,” echoed my gps. As I drove I realized the lights in the distance began to disappear. My heart pounded, I felt as if I was entering an abyss of darkness. Chin-Chin remained silent as I continued to venture into unknown territory. I soon began to drive pass signs that indicated “trespassers will be shot.” Being in Texas I knew this was not a risk I wanted to take. Despite my concerns, I was reluctant to question my GPS. Eventually my eyes caught a sign that caused me to immediately step on the brakes. I came to an abrupt stop, and eerily Chin-Chin uttered at the same time “continue heading straight on county road 200.” As I attempted to process what she said, I looked ahead again to make sure I did not read the sign wrong. Ahead of me in bold writing were the words “Entrance to lake.” Eventually it set in, Chin-Chin was attempting to kill me. Had I not come to a complete stop I would have driven right into an unknown lake in a community where I had all likelihood of being shot for trespassing on private property. Immediately I hit reverse and drove back to the main road as fast as I could.

Why did Chin-Chin want to kill me? Was it because of our many confrontations on prior trips? Did she hate that I at times ignored her directions? To date, I have not found the answer. Since then I made the decision to punish her for her evil acts. I have stopped taking her on trips (she has been replaced by Google Maps). I also made it my duty to ensure she never gets another map update…yeah, take that Chin-Chin!

I soon came to realize how much I depended on my gps system. I depended on my GPS to get to wherever I wanted to go. Although I had apprehensions at time, I was too scared to question her presumed knowledge. My GPS had complete control over my life, and without it, I felt hopeless. I had no confidence in my own directional ability, and was too lazy to seek alternate routes. Chin-Chin in her murderous endeavors taught me an important lesson about life. Like our reliance on a GPS we allow others to dictate what we should do with our lives. We trust people for their presumed knowledge, and infrequently do we question their assertions. In so doing we allow our own talent to be diminished. We look less into our own abilities and seek to rely on others. I am not saying that we should not seek advice, however we must ensure that other people don’t silence our dreams. Life is about taking risks, it means believing in our own capabilities. It means getting lost, and finding your way back home again. In so doing we learn important lessons that will make our time here on earth more valuable.

Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, take risks. Live! Feel free to seek advice but know that in the end, you are responsible for making the final decision. Don’t follow people blindly, have your own goals and aspirations. When you learn to trust your heart, you will find that it is never wrong. Continue to believe in yourself and in so doing, you will reach your ultimate destination.

© Dimitri Lyon and, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dimitri Lyon and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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