What’s a GPS?

A few people in my family were gifted with a really fine sense of direction.    I was not one of them.  Finding my way, even to places I had been to occasionally has always been a job.  Here in Cleveland, the highway system is very clearly marked, so it is easy to find Routes 77, 71, 480 and so on from all of the major arteries.  Not all cities post signs – I don’t know if it is because everyone who lives there, knows how to get where they are going or they want to discourage visitors. 

The first time I drove home from E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, I had such a hard time finding my way to highway 77 that I ended up following a car that had Cuyahoga County plates on its back side.  That car made a mistake and turned around.  I, hot on its tail, did the same.  When we finally got to 77 that car accelerated with such speed I almost felt guilty, but I was so thankful just to be heading home.  

I usually remember landmarks to help me as I go along, as well as reversing my directions going home, if it was left left left coming, then going it is right right right.  Some residential areas have no landmarks and no stores or gas stations to stop at.  One time, going home late at night from a cousin’s home in Columbia Station, I overshot my mark and knowing I did not recognize anything spotted a huge bon fire and pulled into that driveway to ask for directions.  As I was backing out of the drive I heard one guy yelling to another, “…if ONE more person stops here to ask directions!!!….”  Gulp.

Back in the days when my cousin Theresa and I bummed around together we went to St. Charles, Illinois to visit my sister and her family.  Of course I had been there many times, but there were two rusty iron structures we had to pass and I must have missed one.  When we saw a barn that had a giant red tomato shaped balloon crowning its silo, well past the town we were aiming for, she said so sweetly, “Oh, Rose, just think of all the sights we would have missed if you knew where you were going.”

Once when we were driving down the short street of another cousin we were visiting in Maryland, I couldn’t decide which house it was when Theresa offered, “How about the one with the two people waving in the doorway?”

When my niece graduated from Penn State and the whole family was converging on the town to celebrate her accomplishment, my cousin ordered me to be waiting outside my office building at five p.m.   When she arrived in her white Taurus, and popped the trunk, I tossed my bag into it and off we went.   We stopped somewhere for fast food then pressed on.  She commented that you could tell that a man (my brother-in-law) wrote out the directions because he mentioned a huge prison surrounded by barbed wire fences, but did not mention an equally enormous shopping plaza.   We took turns driving and were both getting very tired by the time we began circling the mountain (I think this route is what “…she’ll be comin’ round the mountain…” was written for.) The clear night view of the stars was remarkable.   By the time we should have been arriving she puzzled aloud, “How could I miss a Marriott?” To which I said, “Oh, there was one on the corner.”  She screeched the car into the nearest driveway, stopped and leaning forward, head on the steering wheel, said “and WHEN were you going to tell me that?”  I pointed out that she never told me what we were looking for, I just hopped into the car and rode along assuming she knew where we were going.  

People have come to visit me in the last couple of years who needed no directions, only the address because their cars were equipped with the miraculous, GPS gizmos.   This advance in technology amazes me and might have saved me many miles and hours of driving all over the “t’ar nation” as my grandfather used to say, but it is one of those devices which I haven’t invested in since my world seems to be smaller now and I’ve heard that in the future this device will no longer be in use.  Is it because the future automobiles will be programmed differently or because the satellites which guide them will have faded into oblivion – I certainly cannot guess.


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