Saturday, 1 October 2011

A Piece About Sat Navs With Some Artistic Licence.

"At the next roundabout...  go straight on"
"at the next roundabout...  go straight on"
"at the next roundabout..." (ooh, the suspense is palpable)
and so on and so forth.
 On our little jaunt around the coast (mainly the West and South bit) the Northern drawl of the lovely Lauren Laverne and comedy stylings of Josie Long and Andrew Collins were oft interrupted by the incessant (non?) directions of the Sat-Nav. During the times it managed to stay stuck to the windscreen (maybe it kept throwing itself off lemming like after sensing my hatred towards it) it bugged me, and it bugged me a lot. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, maybe it was my own fault for being useless at judging distances hence driving down dead ends and on one occasion down someones garden, maybe it was my shonky hearing requiring me to repeatedly ask "what did he say?", maybe it's my deep seated suspicion of being second guessed by a machine. But then it hit me, what actually bugs me is it's ability to interrupt the whole 'Zen' experience of driving.
 Now the odd thing is i always thought i didn't particually enjoy driving and actually made the DSS take it off my Jobseekers Agreement (that's for another blog post) so drunkenly agreeing to drive around 56 piers in 11 days in a bid to look big was probably a  foolish venture in the first place. But i did enjoy it, and when we decided to trust to Map 1.0 (hidden under the seat along with the ice scraper and fluffy dropped car sweets) i enjoyed it even more. Driving can be like a hypnotic poetry, you're at one with the white line down the middle of the road, the milestones, Sunday drivers and Little Chefs, you perform a sort of dance with the gear stick using the sound of the engine as your guiding muse (note: Renbault Clios have very odd Gear ratios). But then the 'Dashboard Nazi'* pipes up and suddenly you jump.. 'oh, i'm driving!' says the concious bit of your brain and bang, you're back in the real world. (NB: hypnotic doesn't mean i was dozing off despite spending most of the trip sleep deprived and hungover).
 I'm not totally dissing the little robotic cartographer as in many a town it did it did efficiently point us at the Sea, though on the times when it was warming up and i took an executive decision it ALWAYS piped up with "at the next opportunity...turn around" (always with the pause!) i just thought it was being a petulant little fucker. They have their uses and i guess they're here to stay but surely we're losing something, even if it's the opportunity to engage with the passengers (or scream at the missus for holding the map of Dieppe upside down when navigating Greater Manchester). So for the forseeable future i think i'll stick with my oversized £1.99 AA  map of Britain (other maps are available) and a travelling companion who can stay awake to read the lines and lines and lines.

Midge (straight on for 100 yards.... then turn left)

(*Jon's apt description for them, i was told there were two more in the car, should have fired them all up and let battle commence)

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