I know it is unlikely that you will read this, Mr. Smash and Grab Man, but I have no other avenue of communication.  You may not be able to read at all.  Perhaps that is the reason you broke the window of my car and snatched my GPS while I was fast asleep.  You were looking for someone who could talk, give directions, do blindingly quick calculations on the spur of the moment.  You didn’t realize what a fallible creature she is.

I, too, have been lost in the middle of the night, desperate to find my way from A to B.  In Hong Kong, my wife and I went in circles for two hours trying to reach the Ladies Recreation Club for some event or other.  I finally parked the car in Central and we took a taxi.  The first time I tried to find Dorval airport in Montreal I got so frustrated I nearly cried.  I could see the planes landing, but I could not see a way to get to the airport.

I fell for the GPS crutch when we moved to Melbourne. I was tired of getting lost on my infrequent forays into the city and it seemed like the eyes in the sky would extricate me from the geographical challenges of driving on the wrong side of the road in a new city.  When we came to North America at Christmas, I succumbed again.  They were going cheap, and I did have the excuse of the upcoming trip to North Carolina.  But the tri-city area threw the GPS for a loop.  I had almost given up on its directions, guessing my way from here to there with the limited navigational sense I possess.

Perhaps you have pawned it or sold it on the street for a fraction of its value.  That’s what happens to most of them, from what I understand. That is what the cop told me.  These are hard times, and they are the bling of the auto world.

I do resent the assault on the car.  She is an elderly beast, fifteen now, whatever that is in car years. We bought her in the Philippines.  An Australian had ordered it from the Volvo factory in Denmark, believing he could have the steering shifted to the right side before he returned home.  His miscalculation allowed us to snap up a good car at an excellent price.

We took it up to see the rice terraces of Banaue and down to Puerta Galera for snorkeling, and threw a kayak on top to boat on Lake Taal. One arduous trip it took twelve hours to go two hundred kilometers.  One road was so bad we had to get out and walk behind the Volvo.  Our driver was pleased. He didn’t often get to kick us out of our car.

We had it shipped when we moved back to North America. They coated it with cheap wax and secured to the deck of a ship.  It survived heat, humidity, awful roads, fierce cold, salt and ice, filthy dogs, sick cats, and a teenage driver, not to mention the potholes. It carried us from DC down to Florida, back up to Nova Scotia and down the East coast once again. Despite some problems, it has been a good car.  It didn’t deserve that smashed window.

Maybe you kept the GPS, maybe not.  She’s bossy, you know, and her constant recalculating can get on your nerves. It is never too late to get some new directions.  Otherwise, sooner or later, your sense of orientation may lead directly to prison with no “get out of jail free” card.

If you ever feel like apologizing, I’m around.  Aunt Gerry will know where to find me.  Just tell her to go “home.”


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