For Christmas I was given a Garmin, one of those navigation systems that connects to a satellite. It has this little Garmin Lady inside who translates the information from the satellite and tells me where to turn, how long it’s going to take to get where I’m going, etc.
I’m currently in San Antonio to attend a conference, and the drive here was the first chance Garmin Lady and I had to really get to know each other. I typed in the hotel address before I left home, she generously estimated my arrival time at 8:44 pm, and then we began our adventure.
Things didn’t start out so well. When I turned off of Wellborn Road (still in College Station) to grab some supper at the Sonic, she didn’t even seem to notice. I quickly realized that I was receiving her silent judgment. I could feel her commenting to her satellite friends about how I didn’t really need a fritos chili cheese wrap. Wasn’t there something healthier on the menu? And why order a diet cherry limeade when you’re basically having a chip sandwich? Yes, I understood her deafening silence, and I didn’t appreciate it at all.
But we pressed on. When she had me “Exit Right” to get to University even though I always go through the intersection and turn left, I followed her directions. I was doing my best to make up for my Sonic sins. I was trusting her.
Things went well for a while. She listened as I sang my new favorite Kanye West song to her, and I think she appreciated my electronica impersonation. I’m pretty sure we were doing a duet on a Kelly Clarkson song, and I think Garmin Lady was smiling. We were having a great time. We had bonded.
Then, suddenly, something happened. She snapped, “Stay Left.” I did this to get on Highway 21, and then she got really short with me. She abruptly stated, “In 66 miles, turn right.”
Then she started ignoring me.
I channel-surfed on the radio trying to find a song she liked. I sang my very best version of Pink’s “Sober.” I found Charlie Daniels’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia” on the radio and played air-fiddle for her while I was driving – not an easy feat. I’m not going to lie, I even asked Garmin Lady if I had done something to offend her.
She still ignored me.
As we traveled through Bastrop she gave me succinct directional instruction, nothing more and nothing less. After I turned onto a highway I don’t think I’ve heard of before, she basically told me to leave her alone for 36 miles. That’s when our trust issues started.
I remembered my previous drives to San Antonio. Wasn’t there a four lane road from Bastrop to San Marcos? Why was I in the country? I realized then that her satellite friends told her to send me down this two-lane road because they knew about the 1954 Ford pick-up pulling a hay trailer going 35 miles an hour. They plotted together to sabotage this leg of my trip. I understood then that I was only a periphery friend. Apparently she cares more about her satellite friends than me. I hope they had a good laugh at my expense.
Once we reached San Marcos, I decided to confront her. “Garmin Lady,” I said, “It doesn’t feel very good to be the butt of a joke. But we’re on this trip together, and I’m trying really hard to be the bigger person-slash-electronic device. Just to show how much I care, I’m going to leave your power on while I go in this gas station to potty and get a bottle of water. While I’m gone, maybe you should think about what you’ve done.”
Well, things sure looked up then. We traveled down I-35, and she was kind enough to share not only how many miles to my next exit, but the exit number as well. We found some old Chicago songs on the radio and sang the lines together like we really meant them, “Just you and me, simple and free…”
Once in San Antonio, I think she might have been a little nervous with all of the exits closed and detours, so I turned off the radio out of respect for her expertise. I listened carefully as she calmly asked me to “Exit Left” and “Stay Right.” Things were going well. I was quite surprised when I was about to turn right (just like she said), and she anxiously yelled, “Recalculating! Recalculating!”
“Stop it, Garmin Lady!” I shouted. “I did exactly what you said! Don’t you go ‘recalculating’ on me now! We’re almost there, so you better get it together!”
My pep talk helped. She composed herself, and minutes later I could see the hotel on the horizon. As we pulled into the parking lot, she announced with pride and satisfaction, “Arriving at DESTINATION on right!”
Yes, Garmin Lady, we have arrived. And we did it together.