My GPS is Stupid

Recently I had to make a 4.5 – 5 hour trip to a funeral. The location was a little town center of nowhere, USA, that I had actually lived in once for 3 years when my hubby was first appointed to the Methodist church. So even though I knew my way around the general area, I did not know the best way to get there from such a distance as my current hometown. In comes the GPS. I’ve had this device for many years and have relied heavily on it. However, I noticed from the very beginning of our relationship that I have a tendency to argue with it.

The first time I used it was maybe 4 years ago when I was making my annual trip up to Chicago. I go every year for a week of “me” time to spend with all my peeps of childhood. Some years I fly, others I drive. Initially I used Map Quest and a road atlas, but eventually after eyeballing my husbands GPS for a year or two, I said, “I want one of those!” So the hubby bought me one and I was on my way to Chicago to witness a wedding and partake in the festivities.

I’ve lived all over Eastern NC, thanks to the Church, and am fairly familiar with most of the major highways and many, many other roads. So when I plugged my destination into the GPS I was immediately told to start off in a direction that I knew was going to add about an hour to my driving time. I’m already traveling 16+ hours- please don’t add to it, GPS, and make me angry. Now I know that you can switch the GPS to direct you two different ways. There’s the faster, less mileage way, or you can opt for the less time way. I still don’t understand how less mileage does not equal less time, but apparently it doesn’t.

So here I am on my debut road trip with my GPS and I’m audibly arguing with it. I have to turn off the voice. Even the nice british accent gets on my nerves after a while of hearing “Make a legal u-turn” or something like that over and over again. Now after 4 years I still don’t use the voice. This makes following the GPS hard for my hubby when driving my vehicle, as he is attuned to that squawking voice box of his GPS. By the time I’m even close to Illinois I have no idea if I’ve added time to the drive, or if it’s my GPS that’s responsible for the delay.

Over the years I’ve plugged in the GPS and loaded up an address just on the off-chance that it might actually take me somewhere I want to go in a timely fashion. I often use it even when I know where I’m going to see how long it will take me (I’m one of those people who just has to know what to expect. So I’m ok with a 5 hour trip as long as I arrive exactly when the GPS told me I would.) Other times I use it to see if in fact I am right and the GPS is wrong, which it usually is. Example: I go to visit my parents in a town I once lived in and know most of the back roads, etc. Over the past 15 years stores have been added, roads have changed, etc. and I will use the GPS to help me find a location with ease, and it never fails, the GPS wants to take me off on a route that is completely wonky.

So I updated it. It was sadly overdue, as it was 4 years old and it kept telling me every time I turned it on that it needed an update. The process of downloading updated maps was not as user-friendly as I would have liked, so after a frustrating 48 hours, I opted for the 1 year update at a much less economical price than the life-time update would have been, because I wasn’t willing to risk the extra $50 on the chance that it wouldn’t work. The download finally commenced, but I honestly can’t tell a difference in the performance of my GPS. It still tells me to go on routes that are just…crazy.

Another example: we went on vacation at Thanksgiving. Driving to the island from Charleston, SC was about an 8 hour trip. Just to make sure we were going the right direction we turned on the GPS. As soon as we neared Myrtle Beach we knew exactly how to get home, but like I said I keep it on for that neurotic gotta-beat-the-clock part in me. Driving through New Bern, which was hubby’s old stomping grounds of childhood, the GPS insisted on taking us a way that did not suit at all. Not to mention a new cut-through highway had been built within that last 2 years that apparently did not come with my update!

See the frustration here?

Case in point: I’m driving home recently from the funeral, using the GPS as usual. The route it led me to the town the day before was crazy. I followed it anyway because I didn’t know any better. I mean, I knew there had to be a more efficient way to go, I just didn’t know what it was. Hence, the GPS. So I argue with it because I know it’s wrong, even when I don’t know the way. But when it takes me through downtown Greenville…yeah, it’s not taking me the best way. So I have it on while coming home, but I’m following Hubby because he travels so much and I know he’s got the skinny on the best route. And I’m watching my GPS tell me to turn here, and then there, and TURN HERE! and Hubby just keeps going his own way. And every time I miss a turn the GPS re-figures the route. Here’s the kicker…as the GPS is re-figuring, I see the time of arrival drop from 6:56 to 6:48 and finally until it lands on 6:30. Hubby, in his infinite wisdom of Eastern NC roads, has just saved us almost 30 minutes where my GPS could not. And believe me, when you’re trying to get home on a school night after a long drive, pick up the dog, figure out dinner, etc. 30 minutes is a long time. It’s precious time.

So after all this time I have maintained the conclusion that….my GPS is stupid.


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