My husband loves technology: he gets giddy every time Apple releases a new iPhone, he could hardly contain himself when he discovered our home entertainment center could be wireless, and he sheepishly admits that he covets the bells and whistles in my mommy-mobile. He is your standard issue technophile. If it lights up and makes his life easier, he must have it.
Except when it comes to GPS navigation in the car.
You see, although my husband is tickled to death with modern conveniences and entertainment, he is still old enough to remember navigating road trips with a good old-fashioned paper map. You know, the ones that required a PhD to fold? He finds something romantic about the adventure of making your own way in the unknown world, like Marco Polo, Magellan, or whichever explorer British children learn about in school.
Being the navigator in the family was part of my husband’s identity: it made him feel important, powerful, and safe since there was no way any of us could leave him without getting lost. Taking away my husband’s map was like taking away his manhood, and it wasn’t going to go down without a fight. What manhood would?
For years he avoided the issue by claiming the portable GPS systems were too expensive and how he’d rather spend the money taking me out to dinner and buying me gifts instead. My husband is not a fool, and neither am I: I took that deal.
Then we bought a new car and the game suddenly changed.
It turns out that when you spend more than $5,000 on a new car, you can expect certain frills: one of which was a built in GPS navigation system. As the salesman talked proudly and at length, about my new command center, I could practically hear my husband rolling his eyes in the back seat as I test-drove our new fancy wheels.
We signed the papers and drove our new car home that same day, and thus began an epic battle of man vs. machine that continues to rage in our household to this day. It’s not being fought spectacularly or violently, but more like a dirty political smear campaign filled with libel and slander. From the very first time I entered a destination into my new GPS, my husband began his gradual affront of second-guessing and discrediting the satellite navigation.
While I certainly understand the art of his war, I have to admit that I’m not sure he’s actually winning the fight. His frantic searching for a better route using Google maps on his phone, while repeatedly questioning every turn the extremely polite British gentleman in the machine suggests, has maybe saved us 10 minutes of traveling time once. The rest of the time it merely causes us to become frustrated, fight, and usually wind up running later than we already were.
Let me take you through the steps of typical road trip with my husband, and you can be the judge as to who is winning the war between him and the evil (very helpful) computer.
Step 1: My husband begins to suspect we are going the wrong direction, even though the very expensive satellite says it’s fine.
Step 2: He stops listening to anything anyone else has to say while he worries incessantly.
Step 3: He starts answering back to the computerized voice every time he speaks. Are you sure?!
Step 4: He changes his mind every 5 minutes about whether or not we should take the next exit on the freeway and change directions.
Step 5: We pass the next exit.
Step 6: He consults Google maps once again and decides we should have taken the previous exit.
Step 7: He Repeats steps 2-6 until I eventually take his phone away from him.
Step 8: He finally convinces me that there exists a mythical road that will hurry us to our destination twice as fast as the road the GPS has suggested.
Step 9: We exit the clearly marked freeway for a windy side road.
Step 10: We then drive 15 minutes on the new road before realizing that he misread the map and we were going the wrong direction.
Step 11: We turn around and drive 30 minutes in the opposite direction.
Step 12: Finally we see signs directing us to the toll road we were looking for.
Step 13: We drive for 5 minutes on the beautifully empty toll road that was every bit as wonderful as my husband had dreamed it would be.
Step 14: Inevitably, we wind up back on the same road on which the GPS had initially told us to turn.
Step 15: We drive the remainder of the trip in total, tension-laden silence, while I hold his phone hostage on principle.
I love my husband, and I want to support him in his every endeavor in life. However, I feel that it is my wifely duty to point out that he has lost this particular battle. Even on the few occasions when he has successfully navigated us to our final destination 15 minutes ahead of schedule, I have to wonder “was it worth the stress?”
Is there anywhere we go on a regular basis that we are willing to suffer just to spend an extra quarter of an hour basking in its brilliance?
If we ever get there, I’ll let you know.