Friday, January 23, 2009

Technology, Smechnology

You know, sometimes, things that are created to make our lives easier, actually tend to cause more problems or harm than they do good.

Fir Christmas, I got a GPS thingy. I have wanted one for a while. For mother's day, my husband had a GPS application put on my cell phone, which is nice. It is a little slow, but has a ton of features. The real problem is that it costs $10 a month! Way too much. So, I kept telling him that I wanted a hand held GPS instead. For Christmas, my mom actually got me one. Well, she gave me money, and I went to Wal-Mart well before the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving day, and got one.

I like it. It isn't as good as I hoped, because of the cheap model. It does, though, help me get around, and I need that.

The problem is that like many other pieces of technology, we come to rely on fallible machines, instead of using our own brains sometimes.

Today was one of those times.

I had to run by one of the very few military pharmacies to pick up a prescription refill I had called in. I couldn't go until the afternoon. I met a friend for lunch in the area of the pharmacy. I'm not all that familiar with the area. I have only been there a few times, and only been the medical clinic where the pharmacy is one other time.

So, of course, the handy, dandy GPS gets to me our lunch spot.

Lunch was nice. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with a friend and eat a meal, and have some conversation.

At the end of lunch, I told her where I was going, and she pointed in the direction that my clinic should be. I thought it was that way too, but regardless, I had the GPS, and had written down the address before I left.

So, I turn on my device, and at first, it can't even find me. Great. I cut it off until I go out to the car. Once I was close enough to a street, it picks me up, and sends me on my way.

Immediately, I think the directions sound a bit off. I, though, am directionally challenged, and rarely trust my own instincts in this regard.

My GPS tells me to take a left out pf the parking lot. So, I do. Hmm. I know the area that I need is to my right, and behind me. Maybe, I think, there is another street just a block or so down that will take me back to where I need to be. A turn here. A turn there. Suddenly, the GPS is telling me to turn into a military base. Now, I know I am going to a military building, but it isn't on base. It is in a redeveloped area that used to be on base. Not good. I'm not going on base. It must be confused. So, I pass the gate to base, and as soon as I hear "recalculating" I think surely it will find the mistake, and take me to the correct area. Not so much. I end up circling the airport.
The whole time, my little one is in the back seat yelling "Let's Go!", her new favorite phrase.
"I am going, baby. Mama is a little lost, and I need to find my way. Please be quiet for just a few minutes so that I can figure this out."
Wrong thing to say.


"Yes, lost. Well, I can't find what I need to, but we are ok."

"Let's go!"

"We are going!"

Repeat this conversation to the point of insanity, and you start to get what I am feeling. My time is running out. I have been driving around forever. I have to pick up my other daughter from school in a hour and a half, and I don't even know where the stupid pharmacy is yet!

A supposedly brilliant idea hits me. I have another GPS! I grab my phone, turn on the GPS, and pray this one will get it right. I enter the address while trying to drive down the road. I know it isn't a good idea, but I am getting desperate here. I hit enter, and pray. My hands free devise is in my ear. So, I start hearing the male voice say "Calculating route". Yes! I think this is going to work.

Then, almost simultaneously, I hear the male voice in my ear, and the female voice of the unit in my hand speak my next direction together. No! No! It can't be! Maybe they will change when we are supposed to make that left onto base, I think. So, I keep driving down Harbor drive, with 2 different people telling me how to get somewhere I don't want to go. Finally I have to admit that neither of them is going to help me.

I cut both of them off, nearly flinging the hand held into the floor board.
I mean, how hard can it be to find this place?? I've been there once. I have a vague idea of where it is.
I decide to retrace my steps from right after where we left off at lunch. Maybe that should have been a right and I will be able to find it.

I pass the exit from the parking lot, and almost immediately there is a 4 way stop. As I approach, I notice that the area on my right is fenced in. Could it be??

I turn, see the gate guard building, and can't believe it. I show my ID, pull in, and park. Then, I look up. I am sitting there, looking at the restaurant I left, over 40 minutes ago. That's right, the pharmacy was right behind me. Maybe 50 yards. It took me 40 minutes to go 50 yards. That is one seriously scenic route.

On the bright side, I had a great lunch, I now know how easy this place is to get to for all of my future refill pickups, and my friend from lunch got a kick out of my story.
On the down side, I think I'm going to have to start carrying a Thomas Guide (local map book) along with the 2 GPS units every where I go. This way, I can at least make getting somewhere a three way argument between the male voice in my ear, the female voice of the GPS, and me with the Thomas Guide in hand.


buttafly said...

So what went wrong? Sounds like you still don't even know. I can't believe it was right behind you! You have to remember, even though technology has come a long way, it's still programmed by humans. And probably a man on that note!