Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome Back, Greta Garmin

Greta stopped speaking to me.
Was it something I said? Did she disapprove of my infrequent trips to the mall? Was I spending too much time in parking garages, while she searched for me in vain? Was I spending too much time with Google Maps?
Did I ignore her once too often?
I’ve blogged before about my love affair with my GPS, Greta Garmin. It’s easy to develop a relationship with any machine that talks to you.
Whenever I miss a turn, or choose not to follow Greta’s directions, she says, “recalculating” in an exasperated, eye-rolling tone of voice. It’s like she’s thinking, You asked me for directions, or How hard can it be to turn when I say turn? But she never gives up on me. She has endless patience, not like SOME PEOPLE. She’ll recalculate till the cows come home. Or I do.
So you can imagine my concern recently when Greta’s voice began to falter, dwindling to a strangled, truncated croak. The screen directions were still there, but that requires me to take my eyes off the road and try to focus on that little screen. I might as well try and read a map.
Desperately, I tried the British voice, the male voice—none Greta, Ready to Helpof them spoke to me, either.
My son has the same model Garmin. His has also begun to fail—in his case, the voice is fine, but the screen has dimmed until it’s nearly unreadable. He feels comfortable reading and wrangling electronic devices in the car. He’d rather have the screen than the voice.
Put the two together and you have one fully-functional Garmin.
It used to be when I headed out on a car trip, I would consult a map, plan my route, and carry multiple maps in the car in case I lost my way (as I often did).
With Greta aboard, I just launched, confident I could find my way there and back. School visit in a small town? Piece of cake. Find my conference hotel in a city filled with one-way streets? No problemo. Take back roads to the airport in a strange town? She has my back.
Without her, I feel cut loose, orphaned, like Hansel and Gretel without the breadcrumbs.
I contacted Garmin, only to find that Greta was eight months out of warranty. But they agreed to send a refurbished unit as a good will gesture.
And now she’s back—good as new, though just a little put out at being sent away. I’ll make it up to her. We’ll take some long road trips together—just the two of us.

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