Cincinnati, Musings

I Am Where I’m Going

I’m not ready to purchase GPS for my automobile navigation needs. It’s not an anti-technology thing. It’s mostly pride and a little that I want to turn the radio up and sing and not listen to someone ordering me around.

My driving happens in Cincinnati (the tri-state area if I’m counting occasional forays to the far suburbs and near counties). I’ve lived here my whole life while I don’t know all the street names (‘cause c’mon!), I have a lifetime of local travel to draw on.

My general sense of direction is very good. I’m often headed toward my destination, but I’m taking the weirdest route to get there.

[My directional “challenges” turn out to be a metaphor for how I run my life.]

Since I tend to just need the last couple of turns, I can’t justify “real” GPS, but I will occasionally stoop to using my phone and Google Maps. I still try to do it myself without having the voice directions on.

This is how I usually get where I’m going. I head off somewhere, armed with a street address and way too much confidence. When I get to where I think I’m supposed to be, it often turns out I’ve miscalculated. This always comes as a surprise to me. To correct the situation, I turn around and try the path out one or two more times. Maybe I’ll look at the address again. Maybe I will grudgingly resort to a Google map, but at this stage, I’m all turned around. And then, without warning, I literally say out loud (even if I’m alone in the car), “Oh. There it is.” I say it as if the previous 5 minutes never happened. And if I’m not alone, I get some unbelievable eye rolls sent my way.

Sometimes, even when I’m on a regular route, I still “get lost.” Well, more accurately, I don’t get lost as much as I forget to make a turn or turn too soon (maybe because I’m singing to the radio, or thinking about that one thing I should have said to the bartender that would have been way funnier than what I actually said). Anyway, when I realize I’m off course, I don’t need GPS to tell me what to do. I want to correct my own mistake. All I need to do is find a road I’m familiar with so I can begin again. I have an uncanny way to finding a new starting point and this, too, comes with out-loud commentary: “Oh. Look. It’s ________ road. Now I know where I am.”

The thing about GPS is that it is programmed to take you on the most efficient route, not the most interesting one. Clearly, I could improve some of my regular routes, but does The Google know I like driving through Winton Woods even though it adds time to my drive? No. The Google doesn’t know everything!

The other day, I was in no hurry heading to a new address with Google Maps with the voice on. (I know, I’m weak.) As soon as I heard Google say I was on the fastest route I was like, “Oh yeah? How about now?”, I turned and made it reroute me, and then I did it again. I ended up at my destination 9 minutes later than the fastest route, but I also got to drive on Walton’s Creek Road (which I didn’t know existed). The Walton’s Creek detour meant my head automatically played the Walton’s (tv show) theme music and I said “goodnight John Boy” when I turned onto the next road. Turns out, even if I have GPS, I’m still taking my wayward route.

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