Melissa Stagnaro

Anyone who has used a GPS has probably been reprimanded by the device for failing to make a turn as instructed. “Recalculating,” it will say, in whatever voice you’ve programmed it to speak with.

Mine is a woman’s voice with a somewhat snippy British accent who always manages to sound vaguely annoyed by my inability to find the way to my destination without her assistance.

I have to bite my tongue sometimes when she tells me off for not having turned down an imaginary route, or rutted truck path she has mistaken as an acceptable means of transport. I mean, who does she think she is?
Sometimes I’ll refuse to follow her directions purely out of spite, which I always end up regretting.

I know I’m not the only who has a love hate relationship with their GPS. My friend and her husband consider theirs, which they call Gypsy, to be the “other woman” in their marriage. It’s an older model and a bit out of date, and is often a bone of contention between them. Liz says Kent always sides with his electronic mistress against her. I witnessed this first hand on a road trip earlier this year. It wasn’t pretty.

Last week a woman in my golf league had us rolling on the floor telling us about her travels with “Miss Nuvi,” as she calls her Garmin. Peg is, apparently, notoriously bad with directions. It doesn’t help that she’s also a bit of a speed demon, not to mention a tailgater of the worst kind, so she often misses important signage. (After listening to her stories, I don’t think I’ll be risking my neck getting in a car with her anytime soon. I feel for her husband.)

Even with the assistance of Miss Nuvi, she often has a hard time arriving at her destination without lengthy detours. I’ll bet she hears “recalculating” a lot when she’s on the road.

Kathie, another golfer in the league, has a TomTom, which she calls DickDick. (I’m not enitirely sure, but I don’t think she’s really a fan.) “He” never seems to learn from his mistakes, she explained. I can understand her frustration.

Despite the occasional misdirection and cranky demeanor of my GPS, I do enjoy it’s company on long car rides. It’s a heck of a lot easier than mapping out my own trips, and eliminates the need to juggle maps when you’re either driving solo or your co-pilot has decided napping is a higher priority than navigation. She actually reminds me a bit of taking road trips with my dad, especially the way she complains every time I need to make a pit stop.

Now that I’m getting better at taking what I consider constructive criticism about my driving, we get a long a lot better. Sure, she sometimes gets confused, but don’t we all? If I could program her to sing along to the radio with me, she would make the perfect traveling companion.

In fact, I think I could use similar guidance in other aspects of my life. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know immediately when you’ve taken a “wrong turn” with your decision making and have assistance mapping a new path to your “chosen destination?” I think so. It would save you from making costly or embarrassing mistakes that side track you from your goals and always seem to come back and bite you when you least expect it.

Sure, there’s your own moral compass. But wouldn’t it be easier to follow if it had a colorful LED display and whenever you made a questionable decision said, in a slightly condescending English accent, “Recalculating…”