Maps. They are Cheap and We Need Them
Currently I’m in a room called Fish Fantasy and there are a million fish plastered on the walls, bedspread, and hanging from the ceiling. And let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by them. And for the record, I hate fish.
A old, dear friend of mine was (is–unless anything happens in the next few hours) getting married and invited me to her wedding four hours south of San Francisco. And because I’ve been stuck in my San Francisco bubble and jaded about oh, everything, especially that magical space technology that happens on phones or just car GPS systems, I didn’t think too much about directions. I looked at Google maps before I left to get a general sense of where I was going and planned to rely on my phone for the rest.
I have now decided what we need to do is go back to is cheap, motherflipping maps. Yes, it’s true, paper maps cannot tell you road construction that happened yesterday or what the traffic is like this very second. But you know what, I can tell you what traffic is like this very second, because I am stuck in it, bumper to bumper, window to window with the creepy guy I accidentally made eye contact with and now have no escape from for the next hour. I might have known it was going to happen from my magic phone, but often times it’s there, you know it, but there really aren’t any short cuts. You deal with it like you would if you didn’t know it was going to be there.
Let me tell you a little bedtime (naptime? whateves) story about what happened to me today. My navigation system on my phone did me well at the beginning. Straightforward and simple, but I once I got off the highway and into the tricky land of navigation, things did not fair so well. Ten miles off the exit, the road it insisted I should make a left on was not named what it said it should be. So instinct kept me driving towards the ocean. The GPS kept interjecting, “Make a u-turn when safe,” over and over. Finally, I started to doubt myself. The sun was going down, my phone seemed confident, and I was not. I turned around, arriving at the intersection again. Still not the right name, but the exact spot to turn according to the GPS. I made the turn, wary, and the phone immediately yelled, Recalculating. And that was the last of the phone directions for the duration of the trip. Occasionally, it would weakly murmur, Recalculating, but with no additional information. I was on my own. I twisted and snaked my way down the sketchiest of middle of nowhere roads, phone battery almost dead, but out of range of service anyway. No cars on the road, no one around, I drove and drove, darkness looming, fog rapidly rolling in, and carsickness taking over. I had no idea where I was, no way to contact anyone, but if I had a map, a frame of reference, I would I have been golden. Panic started to rise with every hairpin turn I took and the distinct possibility of vomiting made turning around to repeat it all over again seem impossible, so I kept on. Somehow I ended up on a main thoroughfare. I drove a few more miles through the fog, with no idea where I was, with only hope, blindly making turns in what I thought might be the right direction. And then miraculously I saw the name of my motel; the neon beckoning to me.
Because I’m not enough of a sucker, after I re-charged my phone for a bit, I looked up directions to the party the bride’s mother was hosting and set out into the fog. Yep, lost again. When I finally had access to a map, I immediately knew where to go: a block away from my motel room.
So moral of this story is: who cares if that British lady coos turn left from that magic box on your dashboard. Or if your phone has the best GPS ever. They’re just pretending to care about you and a goddamn map will save you from the biggest ulcer ever. Cheap and reliable. Done and done.
PS. When I got to the wedding pre-party, people who knew the area were shocked that I took that road. “Yeah, it’s the fastest,” they said, but “Oh, man.” Oh man, indeed.
Photo courtesy of treehugger.com