Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The other woman in my life

Yes, another woman has come into my life.  She has a soft voice, but she nags constantly.  Yet I don't mind because without her I would not have any direction.  As in literally no direction.  But the best part is my lovely wife approves of this relationship.  Now if anyone is expecting titillating details, I'm afraid they are in for a disappointment, as the story isn't as sordid as today's title indicates.

It all began back in April, when we accepted an invitation to a wedding in Whitehall, Michigan.  Whitehall is a lovely resort town on the shore of Lake Michigan, with one drawback.  It isn't the easiest place to get to.  After going over our travel options, we decided to fly into Chicago O'hare, then rent a car for a pleasant four hour drive to Whitehall.  As with most travel plans, the reality was completely different.  The flight was fine, the drive was another matter.

We rented a shiny new Toyota Corolla, but despite my careful perusing Google Maps ahead of time for the best route to Whitehall, a type of sixth sense made me splurge for a Garmin GPS unit in the car.  I should say that I have absolutely no sense of direction, and unless I have detailed maps that I've memorized, heaven knows where I'll end up.  And I have had issues with Google Maps in the past.  So for renting the Garmin unit...

Best. Decision. Ever.

The default voice for the Garmin was Jill.  It was easy to program in the address of the hotel we would be staying at, and I figured since it was noon, that traffic getting out of Chicago would be fairly light.

Worst. Assumption. Ever.

It's a fairly short drive from O'Hare to the freeway, and from there about a 30 mile drive to get out of town.  Unfortunately, Chicago is determined to be the traffic jam nightmare of the known universe.  The traffic was at a near standstill for no apparent reason except for way too many vehicles and way too little road surface.  I wasn't sure if there were other reasons, such as a wreck up ahead, the entire city having an early start on getting out of town for the weekend, or more folks had been invited to the wedding we were going to than we thought and all lived in Chicago.

Fortunately the weather was clear and mild, though a torrential thunderstorm wouldn't have made any difference.  After guiding me to the freeway, Jill was silent until saying, "Keep left."  I didn't pay attention until realizing my lane was about to split off to a different freeway, and I had to get over a couple of lanes.  I'm usually as calm in heavy traffic as someone trying to defuse a bomb while blindfolded, so I put on the blinkers, and eased over while hoping whoever was next to me would take pity and let me in front.

Finally after a couple of tense hours, we were out of Chicago, and after discovering the car actually had more gears than just first, finally picked up speed and were on our way.  After getting to Whitehall, Jill really proved her worth.  Whitehall is a lovely town, but for navigation the assumption is you are a native and can ignore the almost complete lack of details like street signs.  Google maps would have been completely useless because of this, so Ms. Garmin was allowed to take complete control of my life.  And yes, with my wife's approval, though there were times we doubted her sanity.

We would be directed down roads for what appeared to be no other reason than Jill just wanting to be on that road.  At one point, my wife said, "She's crazy!"  I did have some apprehension that we had rented an insane GPS unit from a Stephen King novel and were being led to our doom.  But we learned patience, and Jill always got us exactly where we wanted to go.

Unfortunately, no technology could do anything about the horrendous traffic once again, in the middle of the day, when we returned to Chicago.  Nor do anything about my nerves of wet noodles in said traffic.  But on the flight home, we decided to get a Garmin unit of our own.  We first used her, (I still selected the Jill voice),  on a trip to San Antonio, which has a street pattern best described as Chaos Theory.  Which meant I often heard her saying, "Recalculating," when I missed a turn.  But in the end she was always right.  After all, she is a woman.

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