My wife’s suspicion of technology has expanded to include GPS. It’s in her DNA; my mother in law recently emailed us an article about people getting dumber because of navigation systems. To paraphrase: maps are great and anything with a battery is full of demonic trickery aimed at turning humans against nature, truth, family, spirit and wholesomeness.
Their public skepticism of technology is a smokescreen used to distract family and friends from the indefensible reality that they trust themselves more than a computer.
That’s the principal difference between my wife and me, and it’s the foundation of why our marriage works. She thinks nothing will be done right unless she does it herself, and I think the only way things can be done correctly is if I’m not involved. She wants to be in charge and I’m desperate not to be.
But my life boss isn’t around all the time to tell me when to turn left or how not to tailgate a tractor-trailer. In those lonely and confusing times, I rely on technology to keep me alive and on schedule. As much as I appreciate her zeal for wearing the decision pants, I would find it soothing if she had even a shred of faith in satellites, algorithms, historical trends, and silicon processors that do a billion calculations every nanosecond. To me, computers are only wrong when you ask them dumb questions. My wife believes computers are wrong because she has trouble trusting anything that doesn’t cry.
I generally drive on car trips because it’s the only masculine thing I’m allowed to do anymore, save carrying luggage. Unfortunately, that permission was only granted because I’m a sissy who gets nauseous unless he’s behind the wheel.
I should be clear, I don’t make any decisions while driving. I’m more of an automaton awaiting the input of my commander. Our car has a navigation system, but the minister of travel insists on simultaneously studying google maps, which she still calls “Mapquest” to either confirm or refute the turn by turn instructions provided by the AMAZING COMPUTER in our car.
GPS: “In a quarter-mile, turn left.”
Lindsay: “You’re gonna turn left up here in a bit.”
Me: “Yea, thanks, the GPS designed by genius MIT graduates just told me the same thing.
Lindsay: “Oh, I see — it’s taking you on a different route. Not quite as direct as the one here on mapquest. That’s weird, I wonder why it did that.”
Me: “Probably a complicated algorithm based on distance, speed limits, and historical traffic patterns going back for decades.”
Lindsay: “Hmmm, seems sort of out of the way, but whatever.”
GPS: “Turn left.”
Lindsay: “Left Left Left!”
Me: “Do I turn left? Because I’m getting mixed signals here.”
At one point this winter, Lindsay was using her “mapquest” while my dad was in the backseat studying some navigation app he got for free with the purchase of his phone. All three of us were getting different directions to the same place. Pirates trying to sail to uncharted land in the 16th century had less trouble agreeing on a route.
Now, at the beginning of a trip, I force everyone to decide which GPS we’re using, and make them turn off all other “apps” and “mapquests”, like a suburban mom collecting her kid’s phones before a nice family dinner. “No texting at the table! We’re having beans and wieners!”
My only issue with my GPS is that it’s too specific. I don’t need to be told what to do every 15 feet. “Stay left, then stay left, and then take the exit right.” WHAT? oh, you’re telling me not to take the next two exits. “Get in the left lane, and then stay right.” What? You want me to stay in the right part of the left lane? Why are you micromanaging the shit out of me here, Samantha? That’s honestly her name.
“In 500 feet, merge right, then stay left.” Thanks, Sam, you’re just as confusing as the rest of the women in my life.