Garmin and I have a complicated relationship. Probably a sick, twisted relationship when I think about it.
Yes, it’s a machine. (In case you aren’t familiar with it, the Garmin is a GPS navigation device for automobiles.) But I talk to mine. I talk to it starting the moment I sit down in the driver’s seat and its robotic female voice coldly says “Calculating…” That means it’s acquiring the satellites so that it can my plot out my journey.
“Ah yes, my personal Magellan,” I say overdramatically, “You shall do my bidding.”
As I said, my relationship with my Garmin is a complex one. Even as it is my savior on a long trip, working tirelessly and thanklessly, it also is the target of my verbal abuse.
I blame it for anything that goes wrong. And then, after a brief realization that the mistake is my fault, I have a set of ultra-sappy apologies that usually would be reserved for a girlfriend. I feel pretty silly (and pitiful too) when I consider the things I say to my Garmin.
The first time I unleashed my anger on it was after I missed an exit on highway I-70 outside St. Louis during the initial leg of a cross-country road trip.
“Ah, damn it to all hell!” I screamed. “What happened, Garmin? What in the hell happened? You told me to take the exit just as we were passing it while I was in the far-left lane on a four-lane highway! That was a horrible move, Garmin! You screwed up BIG TIME! Thanks a lot. Great. I mean, I’m out here with blinders on!”
After only a few moments, I looked at Garmin’s Zen-like metallic frame on my dashboard. I felt the pangs of guilt. Its large, clear (and very helpful) digital map showed the car’s position—off-course, on a different route, the wrong route. I knew only Garmin, the focal point of my rage, could correct my error.
“Garmin, I’m sorry… I—”
“Recalculating…” It interrupted frigidly, which I perceived as, “I’ll do it, but I’m mad.”
“Seriously, Garmin… I apologize… I—”
“In 1.2 miles, make a right on Dooglesmith Street,” it said in an icy, programmed monotone.
I made the right, took a sweeping loop and then was back on the highway (with Garmin directing me every step of the way).
“Take I-70, 247 miles.”
Deep sigh. “Thanks, Garmin.” Awkward silence.
I was back on course, but guilt-ridden. Sadly, things got worse. There were times during that trek that I picked on Garmin for no reason except my own boredom.
“Garmin, you smell like poop,” I once said nonchalantly.
I then chuckled to myself. Isn’t that pathetic? I was like some horrible bully picking on a shy, genius kid who does my homework everyday. Plus, I implied that a machine pooped in its pants, which is, well, ridiculous.
Believe it or not, I’m not a bully in my real existence. I’m polite and courteous. This machine brings out of this spiteful jerk that’s maybe inside all of us (in some capacity). It also gives me someone to talk to when I’m alone. Obviously, I do all the talking, which… again… is very pathetic. I think Garmin and I have the same relationship as Tom Hanks’ character did with Wilson the volleyball in the film Castaway. Although here, it’s worse because I’m actually being ungrateful to a machine that’s sole function is to help me.
Maybe I should change my evil ways. Okay, I here I go:
“Hey, Garmin. Look… I just want to say thank you for guiding me effortlessly across the entire country. You’re always so helpful and clear and I couldn’t have done it without you. Seriously. You’re the best, and I want to apologize for all the spitefulness I’ve sent your way. You’re amazing… and I freaking love you… like one guy does another guy… who’s got a robotic female voice…”
“There, I said it. Now, how do I get to McDonald’s, you steaming pile of feces?”
Read more about car navigation systems, both the portable Garmin and the ones that come already installed in automobiles, in another DivineCaroline story, Get Lost Easily? Argue with Your Man About Directions? Consider a Nav System.