39. GPS, Grossly Pathetic System
Our Global Positioning System was for us a grossly pathetic system. Of course the GPS was not the problem, it was the clowns using it. We needed to find our way from Hartland to ‘Up North’ and specifically to an unimportant dot on the map called Summit Lake. We also wanted to swing back through Cedarburg and to re-visit Kohls.
By the way, I am sitting here giggling in anticipation about what I am about to write.
I named the GPS system Ronnan. Ronnan was the perfect navigator, like absolutely perfect. As soon as I had turned a corner, Ronnan would very pleasantly let me know that in three miles I would need to turn right and then as I got close, in a very well-mannered voice Ronnan would remind me of that intersection. If ever I forgot the instruction, which incidentally I do most times, a quick glance a Ronnan’s bright and American cheerful screen was all that was required. Ronnan at her core was beautiful, however it was her relationship with us that caused problems.
We jumped in Betsie and programmed Ronnan for our friend’s house in Cedarburg. It was here where I think that we made our second mistake, we chose the option for taking the shortest route. So we fling Betsie out of our friends’ driveway and were happily bouncing down the road when we approached our first T-intersection. I whacked on the right indicator just as Ronnan informed us that we needed to turn left, up, let’s say Cow Pat Street. Sharon and I looked at each other and thought ‘Well it is the opposite way to which we came, but let’s give it a go’. Betsie on the other hand could almost be heard sighing and thinking ‘Oh no, what fresh hell is this?’ So we dutifully obeyed. We were doing fine, we recognised some stuff from the day before, but increasingly we had that feeling of doom approaching us. We found our way into the most common part of rural Wisconsin, otherwise known as the middle of nowhere and suddenly we noticed that Ronnan’s battery was almost flat.
This is where we discovered our first mistake. We pulled over, rummaged around in the box that the GPS came in and found the cigarette charger thingy, plugged it into the lighter and then went to plug it into the GPS and oh shoot, it did not fit. We did not know where we were, our map was of the whole country, so did not have any of these Wisconsin-nowhereville-back-roads on it and now Ronnan was giving up the ghost and we couldn’t do a thing about it.
So we drove until Ronnan died. The good news was I knew exactly where we were when Ronnan karcked it. We were on the side of the road between Cadarburg and Madison and though this was a mere pin-point on my map, in reality it was a distance of about 115 km. We kind of thought that if we just kept on driving in the direction of what we remembered as east, that we would recognise something. What we forgot was that we were in back-woods middle America; every little town was a stinking clone of the one before. Each new town had the same cute houses, the same post office, same gas station, same fast food joints and same Lutheran church. To top this off, we never seemed to catch the name of these towns. I was sure we were travelling due east, but for all I knew we could have been travelling around in rather tight circles.
We decided to stop and crank over Ronnan. She burst into life and instantly told us to turn left. We turned left and she died again. Whilst Sharon was rather tersely explaining to me all the reasons why she does not like technology, I was rather tersely asking her to quickly turn Ronnan back on. Ronnan burst back into life again, gave us one instruction and promptly died. Sharon and I, in our increasingly cranky state, played this game for about twenty minutes, then I noticed a particular letterbox. This was clones’ville middle America, it looked like every other stinkin’ letterbox, but somehow I thought that I had seen this particular identical letterbox at least once before.
We pulled over, Betsie was once again red with embarrassment, we were red-faced with frustration and this letterbox just sat there proud and tall on its post, gloating at the crazy, stupid, fuming and helplessly lost Kiwis who had just been washed up on its road. After some time of trying to free my head of Sharon’s stories about new technology, I figured out what we were doing wrong. Ronnan was faithfully giving us the one instruction before karcking it. But we were actually quite close to Cedarburg, driving through seemingly identical square mile blocks of light farmland. So by the time we had turned Ronnan back on, we had already driven past our next one or two turns. So every time we turned her on, the first thing that she had to do was correct our perpetual screwing up, which meant due to missing our second instructions, we had been driving in painful figure-eights.
I am sure glad that Ronnan the GPS was programmed by Americans; if she had been programmed by Kiwis, every time we turned her on her opening words would have been ‘You twats(124), you have f’ed up again, accelerate into the nearest power pole, then dig a hole and bury yourselves’. But this being American-programmed, every time we cranked her over, she burst into her bright-sunny-dispositioned-service-industry English. For that I was incredibly grateful, Ronnan has become my role-model for suffering fools gladly.
So we learned a trick. And for the next thirty or so minutes we learned to turn Ronnan on and receive that one vital instruction. Turn that oh so important corner, then whack on the brakes and pull over beside an identical, seemingly-empty farm house. Then turn Ronnan on again and wait the painfully long five minutes for her to wake up her tired and drained circuit boards. Then we would kick the ever so reluctant Betsie into action and repeat the process another couple of kilometres down the road. Of course if there had been people around, we could have asked instructions, but no one was out on this dismal overcast day. Perhaps they had seen us coming. Eventually we drove into a village that kept on getting bigger and thus we had hit Cedarburg and Ronnan was gratefully left to enjoy her death.
Tune in next week to read about burnt roaster coffee.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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Laughing our butts off! We too have GPS….her name is Bossy Bessie.
Yes we had many GPS moments. However I still think that they are great things. I was laughing as I wrote it.
Stay tuned to hear about our ‘bloody rare steak’ in ‘Up North’ Wisconsin. I was also laughing whilst writing it.