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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
GPS drill sergeant: Left, right, left!
When I was learning to drive I can't tell you how many times my dad would say, "Make a left here," and as he saw me start to turn the wheel right he would say, "No, your other left." It hasn't gotten any better with time. If you say, "Turn right," I will turn left, and if you say, "Turn left," I will turn right. Other than that one little annoying glitch, I live a charmed life. It would barely be a problem at all except that it bothers other people, especially people in a hurry people I'm taking to the emergency room or to the Grand Canyon.
I called friends from my cell phone in the car once and said I'd be at their vacation place in two minutes. Describing a few local landmarks on the phone, they quickly realized that I was two hours away and driving in the wrong direction. I could almost hear my dad say, "No, your other east." My sense of direction is so bad that Sue won't let me drive when we're both in the car. At least, I think that's the reason. So it was a revelation when I took my first ride with someone who had one of those GPS thingies in their car.
"In 500 feet, turn right," it said. I felt like a caveman seeing a match for the first time. This thing is going to change my life. I know what you're thinking, where has he been all this time that he's just now hearing about GPS navigation devices? I did know about them, but think about it, how often are you in someone else's car? Plus the stores aren't exactly giving them away. Yet. After a quick shopping trip, it seems that they range from $125 to $600. Do I really want a cheap one? I have a feeling that if I buy the least expensive GPS it will say things like, "No, your other left, stupid!" or "Way to go, brainiac," every time I miss a turn. It would be like paying to have a big mechanical hand come out of the back seat and smack me on the back of the head every time I made a little mistake.
I'm leery of buying the more expensive ones because do I really want to spend $500 today to find out in a year that they're giving them away with Happy Meals?
You can buy different voices for your GPS device, the way kids buy different ringtones for their cell phones. For only $4.99 you can have a celebrity say, "I meant your other left, bozo." Do I really want Carrot Top telling me where to go? Do I really need Morgan Freeman eloquently narrating my trip to Dayton? Maybe Bill Pullman can give me an inspiring speech about how taking I-95 instead of the Palisades will save the free world from alien invasion.
In the end, does it really matter who is suggesting that I turn right? Cause either way, I'm going left.
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Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo."
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