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I probably wouldn’t mention it if we happened to strike up a conversation in the checkout line of a supermarket, but I will admit, if pressed, to being directionally challenged. Perhaps it is an inherited trait. It would be nice to blame somebody, and it occurs to me that one of my ancestors may be at fault. The one who led the covered wagons into the Great Salt Lake. Whoops!

The fact that I was once employed as a location scout in Hollywood land may strike some of you as puzzling, perhaps even perverse. Finding the locations wasn’t difficult; it was finding my way back that was hard. The art director of one show, who seemed to be alternately amused and annoyed by our outings, coined the term dipsy doodle to describe my circuitous navigation. I would approach each address as if I had to circle it a few times to get there. It was my landing pattern.

After each dipsy doodle trip with the director and producer, I would inevitably consult Thomas Brothers, the bible of LA map books, to find the best way of getting the cast and crew to each location without getting lost. Then I would put up signs. Usually, this worked out well. On one memorable occasion, it didn’t. Thomas Brothers showed a bridge which no longer existed. There was a late start to shooting that particular day and tempers were frayed. Surprisingly, I was not fired. Then. I was fired later. Twice.

Considering my history and the challenge of driving on the wrong side of the road in a very spread-out city with frighteningly complex round abouts, it should come as no surprise that the letters GPS impinged upon my brain. It seemed so simple– eyes in the sky. Some little device sitting on the windshield that would show me the route and say– “turn here, now.”

Think of my dismay, then, when I picked up the morning paper and read about a woman stranded in the bush. She was travelling to Peterborough on the south-west coast when her GPS directed her down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Fortunately, she had a phone.

Constable Dance found her in heavy bushland two hours later. She was “visibly distraught.” The only explanation seems to be that it was, in fact, the most direct route. The constable suggested that if she wanted to keep her GPS, she should consider traveling by tractor or motorbike rather than a Toyota Corolla.

Despite the warning, I succumbed. I made my way down to “Johnny Appleseed” on St. Kilda road and spent a half hour being seduced by the idea of actually driving somewhere in Melbourne without having to worry about getting lost. And it’s amazing. It works! Even when I blow it, the Garmin happily recalculates and sets me on my way once again.

It even seems to learn. When I deliberately chose a different way home rather than the shortest route, the Nuvi only tried to steer me the other way once. The next time it seemed to accept that I must have some reason to take the scenic route.

There is no hint of sarcasm in the modulated, female voice. She remains calm and patient and helpful, even when she is hastily recalculating after the operator has made another egregious error.  Now, if only she could drive.

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