Thursday, May 17, 2012


Those of you who know me, i.e., anyone who reads this, also know that I am an absolute pioneer when it comes to getting lost.  I have an uncanny, innate ability to confuse left from right, North from Sideways, and East from the smell of pork.  I have, quite literally, gotten lost on the way home from work.  That, by the way, took some real skill.  I had driven the exact SAME ROUTE for the past SEVEN YEARS and I somehow got lost.  Not just anyone can do that, mind you.  A monkey couldn't do it - nope, damn furry thing is too smart.  Likewise a trained lab rat.  Nope, only someone like me could do that.  Pure talent.

Which is why, for me, the GPS device is the greatest invention since bipedal locomotion.  You mean my CAR can tell me HOW TO GET THERE??  It can tell me when I make a wrong turn, and after I do it anyway, it can tell me how to make it right??  It's the dream!  So a GPS is not, in and of itself, worthless.  Quite the opposite.

No, what is worthless is the "traffic alert" feature of my Garmin GPS.   It's a feature that monitors somehow or other traffic conditions so that it can let you know when your route is taking you into heavy traffic congestion, traffic accidents, that sort of thing.  On its face it's a brilliant idea.  Not only will it tell you the route, it could help you pick a route that won't lead to a missed appointment, waste of fuel, and a coronary.  In fact, when I bought this Garmin I was very excited about this feature.  Yes, on paper it's an awesome addition.  

In practice, however, there is only one time the Garmin ever tells me "traffic alert."  It tells me that after I've slammed on my brakes because I've just hit a miles long zone of slow-and-go or maybe even don't-even-go traffic.  In other words, it doesn't warn me when I am approaching traffic.  It warns me when I'm in traffic.  It's a bit like having a lookout in a watchtower who waits for the enemy to come inside and start shooting at you and then yells down "The Germans are here!"  Or someone who slaps you in the face and then yells "Duck!"  Or, even worse, someone snidely telling you "did I mention you're screwed?  Traffic alert!  Good luck getting home ... sucker!"  Yup, that last is more what it sounds like.  In its snooty computer lady voice.  Personally, I think it's trying to get back at me for all the times I ignored its driving advice and it had to do its "Recalculating" thing.

In any case, it turns out to be an absolutely worthless feature that, one of these days, is going to lead to a flying Garmin as I chuck it out the window.  If it happens to smack anyone in the head once I throw it out the window it will probably announce smugly "Incoming projectile alert" right after it brains the poor bastard.  Oh, so by the way, you may want to avoid my car when I'm caught in a traffic jam.  I'm just saying...

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