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Will GPS Get You There?

 “This couldn’t be the way to the Citadel,” I said and my friends agreed.  While exploring Charleston, South Carolina, we long-time college girlfriends wanted to see the campus and the buildings of this military college founded in 1842.  June had said to Siri on her phone, “Directions to the Citadel.”  We knew the Citadel was about three miles north of downtown Charleston, but the GPS directed us we through the heart of the city. 

“Let’s follow these directions and see where it takes us,” June said.  “We’re less than a mile away.”  We turned right and then left at the next intersection. Siri announced, “You have arrived at your destination, the City Jail.” 

            Somehow a southern accent and Siri, a personal assistant application, didn’t communicate and the GPS, Global Positioning System, directed us where we didn’t want to go.  And it’s happened to others.

            Monika and her husband followed GPS commands one afternoon on a scenic drive to travel from western Kentucky to Cookeville.  They turned from a four-lane interstate road to a two-lane state road.  Then onto a county road with no centerline.  The landscape was beautiful, pastoral.  White fences, weathered barns, farm crops.  The road became narrower and led to a swamp.  A swamp with no bridge over it.  “If it’d been dark, we might have driven right into that swamp,” Monica said.  “We backtracked and travelled on main highways to get home.”

            Pam and Larry chose a route to avoid traffic when they went to in Sevierville, Tennessee, and were happy to be driving on roads with few cars.  A turn took them into a residential area that had only a few small houses.  They realized their GPS has failed them when they saw a dead end street sign, and they were amused by a hand-lettered sign in the yard of the house at the end of a cul-de-sac.  “Turn around. Your GPS is wrong,” the sign read.

            One time Kathy purposely diverted from the GPS directions and was told, “Make a legal U-turn, then make a legal U-turn.”  Wouldn’t that be back where she started? And Kathy wonders what her GPS would say if she made an illegal U-turn.  Would she be reprimanded?

            Paulette was driving in unfamiliar territory to a friend’s home.  Her GPS said, “Turn left.”  She didn’t.  “Turn left,” was the next command.  Again she didn’t because she was driving on a long tall bridge over water.

            In a rush to get her son to a baseball game so he could play in Georgia, Robbie chose the fastest route according to her GPS.  She raced around curves of county roads and ended in a parking lot in the mountains at the beginning of a hiking trail.  At one time that trail was a county road. 

            I use the GPS on my van, especially when travelling out of town, but I keep my atlas close so I can see where I’ve been and where I’m going. And honestly, it’s stories like these that make me confirm directions on my old-fashioned paper maps that I can hold.

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Lost and Found

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-7-43-00-amI do all I can to be an average American. Like spending 55 minutes a day looking for things I own, but can’t find.

My long black coat sweater would have been perfect to wear to the funeral home. I changed from black sweat pants to black dress pants. Brushed my hair and teeth. Went to the closet to put on my sweater. It wasn’t there. It should’ve been hanging beside my red sweater. I quickly surveyed the hanging clothes in my closet, and then I touched every coat hanger near where that black sweater usually hangs. It wasn’t there.

I glanced at something black that was folded and lay on the edge of the bathtub. The sweat pants I’d just taken off. I looked in the hallway coat closet. It wasn’t there. I grabbed a tan jacket and headed to the funeral home.

My mind wandered during the funeral service. I really liked that sweater coat. I’d worn it with blue jeans for grocery shopping and dressed it up for church wear. And I’d bought it as a souvenir on a trip. How could I be so careless? Where did I last wear it?

When I returned home, I did another search through closets. Then I remembered. A few days before, I had attended a club meeting at a friend’s home and later went out for supper. I called Jennie. Did I leave my sweater at her house? No.

I called the restaurant. After I briefly explained that I’d misplaced something and hoped it was there, a sweet young woman said, “Oh, I understand. We have lots of lost items.” I described my sweater. “There are several black things behind the cash register. It’s probably here. I’ll look and be right back,” she said.

I hit the speaker on my phone and put on my tan jacket and gathered my purse and car keys. Smugly, I waited to hear exactly where to retrieve my sweater. Thank goodness, the restaurant was only a couple of miles away.

“Well, there are three black things. Two sweaters. One is a man’s. One, a woman’s short sweater,” the sweet young woman said.

I wasn’t ready to take no for an answer and asked, “What about the other black thing?”

“It’s a lightweight golf jacket.”

After mumbling thanks and hanging up the phone, I slumped into a living room chair. “What’s going on?” Husband asked. I shared the whole two-hour story. Blah, blah, blah. From getting dressed to go to the funeral home to the lightweight golf jacket.

Husband nodded, turned, and walked out of the living room. Frustrated and mad at myself, I didn’t move. Minutes later, Husband held up my black sweater jacket. “This one?”

It was exactly where I’d left it. Draped over the side of the bathtub beside the black sweat pants. Isn’t that where most lost things are? Exactly where we left them?

At least, I’d spent twice the average 55 minutes searching so maybe the next day I wouldn’t search for anything. Wishful thinking.