It began innocently enough, as most arguments between women and inanimate objects do.
I was heading back from a meeting in the Twin Cities and was trying to decide whether to use the GPS map app on my phone or try to rely on my often sketchy ability as a big homing pigeon to find my way north. It was evening rush hour and taking a meandering scenic route didn’t sound very appealing to this old Bird, so I typed in Anoka and waited a moment for the teensy lady who lives in GPS land to wake up. I like her a lot. She has a nice, calm voice. I think of her as a really smart little librarian who wears green cardigan sweaters and bifocals on a silver chain around her neck. I call her Audrey. Whenever I ask her for directions, I imagine her pulling out a big old map and searching for the route to wherever it is I need to go, her glasses perched on the end of her nose.
As usual, Audrey began giving me advice before I even backed out of my parking spot. “Go north 100 feet and turn left. At the next intersection, turn right.” I imagined patient, kind, Audrey smiling…waiting. I obeyed her directions and the two of us traveled for a few blocks in a comfortable silence. I’d nearly forgotten she was with me when suddenly she piped up. “In half a mile, turn right on Highway 169 North.” Usually, when actual people try to give other, actual people directions, it ends badly. Not so with my little friend! She was actually giving me plenty of time to change lanes! Amazing!
When I saw the signs for 169 North and 169 South, I chose the first exit and merged into bumper to bumper traffic just fine. That Audrey definitely knew what she was doing! She was calm and reassuring all the way to a long bridge over the Mississippi River that I recognized and before I knew it, there was a sign welcoming me to Anoka. What a team we were! I gave Audrey a little mental high-five on her tiny hand. We’d done it!
“At the next intersection, turn right on 8th street.” She said. Right? That couldn’t be right, I thought. I know where I am. And I know where I’m going. You are sending me on a fool’s errand, Audrey. I stayed in the left turn lane. Then I did the unthinkable. I turned without her permission. She was NOT pleased. Not one bit.
“Go to the next available stop light and turn left. Then go south…..”
South? No way, Audrey! I might not be as smart as you are, but I know I am supposed to be heading north!
I stubbornly drove on and at each intersection, she tried to get me to turn around, go back, do things her way. She became more and more insistent. I sensed a slight crack in her serene façade. In fact, at one point, I swear I heard her utter a bad word in my general direction.
Finally, in Elk River, we’d had enough of each other. I pulled off the highway and turned off my phone and headed the rest of the way home in blissful silence. Most of the time, Audrey and I get along great because I know she’s smarter than I am. After all, she’s the one living in a Smartphone. But I’m smart enough to know when to stop arguing with her.
I think it’s time for me to start reading road maps again.