GPS perils

The scene: Baltimore. Driving home.

It’s about midnight, and we’re leaving the underground parking garage. Dave says he’s pretty sure he knows how to get home but since we get turned around so often in that Inner Harbor area we may as well turn on Garmy (our Garmin GPS), just to help get us back to the highway. As usual, she takes a few minutes to locate suitable satellites for navigation, so we’re driving slowly in the direction we think we need to go, while we wait for her. Then she speaks! In 0.2 miles, turn left! Hooray! Electronic guidance! We turn. She says to stay on this road, then turn left again. I’m a little tipsy from the good wine at dinner, but I’m pretty sure that’s taking us away from 395, which is what we wanted. So I poke at the little “next” button so I see what her plans are for us, and it just gets weirder. She’s having us make a bunch of turns on streets I don’t recognize, and it doesn’t look like she remembers that 95 exists.

I mention this to my chauffeur, and he suggests that perhaps we have not entered the right destination. I check, and yes, I’ve hit “home”. It’s possible that we’ve set somewhere else as “home” by accident, so I start from scratch and type in our whole address, and ask her to please recalculate. By now, we’re somehow on 83 and going the wrong way entirely, and I’m starting to freak out.

She recalculates, asking us to “please drive to highlighed route”. But… we’re on a route, why aren’t you calculating from where we are? It’s your job, stupid machine! Recalculate, damn you! Our little car icon is clearly on 83, but the pink line of our calculated route is off to the right on a service road. She seems incapable of understanding and accepting that we were on 83. So Dave calmly (he’s always calm, I don’t know how he does it) takes us off at the next exit, and Garmy starts with her dozens of turns on strange streets. Why doesn’t she want us to take the highway? Why does she keep making us take these stupid little streets all the way to Columbia? It makes no sense! Hyperventilating! Stabbing angrily at Garmy’s buttons! Tantrum beginning!

Then I hear the lightbulb go “ping” over Dave’s head.

He instructs me to go to “settings”, where I could probably improve the situation by taking Garmy out of pedestrian mode. Which he had set her to when we were walking to the restaurant. And forgotten about.

I guess she was trying to protect her pedestrians by keeping us off 95. Stupid computers, doing exactly what we program them to.

In other news, I now know that I can walk home from Baltimore.

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