I Met A Lady, On Prospect Mountain Road, Who Lives In Barnstead and Works In Alton, Who Was Lost Because Her GPS Was Kaput.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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gpslostYes, I went running today. The downstairs thermometer said 7º F (-14º C) which meant that per my own self imposed rules I had to run because the temp. was higher than 5º F (-15º C), which is my cut-off for it being too cold (and dangerous) to run.

So the dogs and I pounded up Prospect Mountain Road all the way up to the second turn off for the cell tower. [I have never been to the tower itself because it is marked private.] Wasn’t too bad. Actually was quite nice in the sun. The dogs love it. Braxton, the Beagle, like all my dogs has become a great snow dog. The cold does not appear to bother him in the slightest.

We were on our way back when this car stops in the middle of the road. I thought the driver was worried about the dogs. Out steps a young lady dressed in a skirt! Wow. I think it was the first time I have seen anybody in Alton, male or female, in a skirt this year. She was very nice.

She told me who she was, what she does, where she came from etc. etc. She was lost. Her GPS was not working. She needed to get to Barnstead, where she lived. She works, daily, in Alton. With the GPS she knows how to get home. But they had detoured her off Route 28 — where they have been doing major road works for months. I suspect that they sent her down Hamwoods so that she could go down Prospect to Rte 28 again. I hope that they had DETOUR signs. Well she turned the wrong way up Prospect.

She, like me, is not from here. She speaks good English, but like me she is not a native English speaker. I didn’t say anything but I realized that therein lay the problem.

Just last week we heard of another ‘foreigner’ who trying to get from Alton to Concord, N.H. (where he lives) USING GPS ended up in historic Concord, MA — after a 3 hours drive! He punched in Concord and accepted the first Concord offered by the GPS without realizing that that there is more than one Concord.

I love GPS. I bought my first GPS in 1998. I don’t use GPS for directions. To me GPS is a portable electronic map that tells me where I am. I am one of this folks, given my advanced age (which predates GPS by decades), that can get anywhere in the world, from ‘A to B’, as long as I have a half way decent map. I was working it out after I met this young lady. I have driven in: the U.K., India, Thailand, U.S., Canada, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. [I can’t honestly remember driving in Ceylon/Sri Lanka. I was 14 when I left. The few times I have visited since, I was driven around.]

And I have driven in all these places, like driving across Denmark to Sweden, in a convertible TR7, way before there was (consumer) GPS. When I first came over here, to work (as opposed to go to school), in February 1985, I was travelling around the U.S. 3 to 4 days a week. Just in my first 10 months in the U.S., February-to-December 1985, I was in the top 2% of Frequent Flyers on both American and United. That was quite a feat (though my feet didn’t touch the ground much). Most of the time I had no idea where I was going. My secretary would give me an envelope and say ‘it is all in there‘. You need to be at BWI in 40 minutes. I would look at the tickets, and what airline I was flying, once I had parked at BWI! I remember going to Kansas City for the first time. Until I was in a rental car, driving, I had no idea that Kansas City was split across two States! I relied on Avis and Hertz maps and the directions they would give me at the rental desk. Didn’t get lost much. Give me a map and we will travel. I, as all my kids know, love maps. I read maps. I study maps. That is why GPS. MORE MAPS. Maps that move. Maps that I can enlarge. Maps that give me perspective.

GPS is a great boon for those that aren’t very conversant in English. I have learned. A ‘relative’ of mine drove all the way from Maryland to here, few years ago, using JUST GPS — actually two GPSs because he wanted backup and confirmation. It was once he was here that it dawned on me. He doesn’t read English very well! Without GPS it would be hard for him to read road signs! Wow.

Ditto for person that went to the wrong Concord. Not able to read English that well. Don’t ask me how they get their licenses.

So …

Yes, I have about 8 (maybe more) GPS APPS on my Android Pad — 2 of them were even PAID APPS. But, I am still as happy with a paper map and yes both our cars have lots of paper maps.

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