From my experience I’ve learned that you can trust your GPS systems…only so far.

The Office - GPS EpisodeHaving recently seen the episode of The Office where Michael drives his car into a lake while following the directions of his GPS device, it brought back some recent experiences I had with my GPS system.

I would definitely recommend purchasing a GPS device. It has saved us time with shortcut, provided emergency bathrooms, directed us to a Wendy’s Frosty, and helped us avoid more than a few long construction delays on the highways. And this was only on our 9-hour trip to Florida. So I will say that I really like owning a GPS device, but on the other hand it has also given myself and my family some head scratching moments such as…

We did avoid some highway construction coming back from Orlando to Daytona beach last summer, but the detour ended up costing us $5 in tolls. I should have had the avoid toll road option selected but usually in Virginia, where I live, tolls aren’t a regular occurrence.

The shortest distance selection sometimes has you driving along side a major highway. You look at the highway and think to yourself, “I should probably get on the highway, but the GPS knows best.” Of course, you get on the highway and then traffic pops up and then you try to get off the highway and the GPS directs right back to the road you were. Of course this isn’t the GPS device’s fault but it is frustrating nonetheless.

When you are in new construction or not-so-new construction (your GPS is already out of date when you get it) you’ll look at the GPS map and find triangle graphic, which represents your vehicles, in no-man’s land. So the GPS has lulled you into trusting it and convinced you that a map wasn’t needed, then you are riding in a digital desert hoping the GPS recognizes a road soon so you can be directed once again. Otherwise you feel you’ve entered the twilight zone and dropped out of this dimension.

Oh, and don’t forget your power supply. Since it is portable you may think that you have more than enough power for the trip and then the thing you know you are without power as the battery has given out on you at the worst moment and the your reliance on technology has left you without a handy paper-based map. Good news here though, you can buy a Motorola phone USB charger and it will work with Garmin StreetPilot C340, which I own. Thank you to the Best Buy employee who told me that bit of news and saved our vacation. ;-)

The most frustrating thing about the GPS is the fact it will tell you when you will arrive or when you are supposed to arrive. The unfortunate part of this is the fact that when you are late it takes the self delusion away from you that somehow you can make a 3-hour trip in 90 minutes. And as heavy traffic takes it’s toll and delays you even more your 3-hour trip is now taking 4 hours and the GPS is smiling at you knowingly as if saying, “You are SOOOOO late and you should have left 3 hours earlier like your wife suggested.”

Yes, the GPS will foster a dependent relationship that is both filled with love and hate.

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