Technology at its worst

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland examines some of the mixed blessings of modern technology

Ah, the wonders of technology. Do you remember the good old days in the back seat of your parents’ car with dad doing the driving and mom riding shotgun with the map?

I do, and even now I cringe when I think of it. My father wasn’t always a patient man and so, having a map-challenged wife trying to give him directions resulted in plenty of new and racy words being learned by small children with big ears.

Those long trips from Winnipeg, where we used to live, to our relatives in Fort Frances gave us children plenty of learning opportunities, and let me tell you they weren’t always the kinds of opportunities that parents wanted their children to have.

Seriously, mom hardly knew which way was up on a map and inevitably she would get us lost. I remember one time, after we moved to Chicago, Illinois, mom was navigating her way through the city trying to get us home. Unfortunately, she got us on the Chicago Loop and without a lie, it took us almost two hours to find an exit and turn ourselves around in the right direction. That was the day I learned the word….. Uh, I’ll let you fill in the blanks there.

Luckily, I didn’t inherit those map genes and I do admit that I am pretty good at getting us to where we need to go. Even so, I was thrilled when we got our first GPS and (thought) I could sit back and enjoy the drive.

My husband and I named our first GPS Chatty Cathy (CC). We were just so darned happy to have her and her friendly voice was a welcome change from my voice. But I soon discovered that despite having a GPS I was still required to call out the route, but this time in advance as I scrolled down her navigation menu.

Now women, I think you might know where I am going with this. Despite the fact that Chatty Cathy is electronic, my husband argues with her.

It goes something like this.

Husband: Which way next?

CC: Turn right on blah blah street.

Husband: What did she say?

Wife: She said to turn right on blah blah street.

Husband fails to turn right as he is certain he knows where he is going.

CC: You have missed your turn. When possible make a U-turn.

Husband: Why is she asking me to make a U-turn? I know where we’re going is up right ahead!

Wife: No honey, you missed the turn.

Anyway, you get the gist of this. Right?

Then there was the day that CC earned her new and second name. This was shortly after she kept telling us to take a U-turn after U-turn and literally had us going in circles. I just know she was secretly laughing at us and enjoying every moment of our confusion.

This time, my husband and I wanted to go to one of our favourite haunts in Arizona and decided to let CC take us there. Wrong move! We ended up on the top of Four Sisters Mountain on a rutty and rugged Forest Service road, in a low slung vehicle and surrounded only by ATVs and rough vehicles that could take the equally rough terrain.

That was quite the adventure.

Which brings me to CC’s new name, Betty B…. Yup, I’m afraid you will have to fill in those blanks too. We gave her away shortly after that and have now replaced her with Wonderful Wanda.

Why Wonderful Wanda? Well, we wanted to start off on the right foot with this new GPS. We didn’t want to have to rename her as well, if you know what I mean.

Yes, she has taken us on some wrong turns and yes, there are times we would both like to throw her out the window, but instead we decided to pick up a road atlas to augment her shortcomings and eccentricities.

So, now we have come full circle, the wife riding shotgun and navigating once again from a map, but this time she has help, courtesy of Wanda.

Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

Oh, one final thought. You do know what GPS actually stands for, don’t you? Unfortunately I’ll have to let you figure that one out as well. Yup, fill in the blanks.

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