Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Bastard vs the Tom Tom

I'm in a large unfamiliar city, but I should be fine because I have the greatest GPS/mapping device known to man, the Tom Tom. It has a friendly soothing voice, kind of like a chain-smoking call center operator on her third shift in a row.

I wanted to go to NASA because I like hearing heroic music. So Tom Tom will take me there because it's got all sorts of interesting destinations pre-programmed.

But not NASA

Enter in the address - OK, it knows the street. Should be able to get there... I check a map and we do seem to agree as to the location of NASA. Get on an interstate, go along the interstate, turn off on a helpfully-named street called NASA road.

First thing Tom-Tom does is tell me to turn the wrong way, away from the interstate. I ignore it and head the way I know towards the interstate, while Tom Tom screams even more urgently that I need to turn right. Its authority cannot be denied! Until I can see the on-ramp dead ahead and Tom Tom decide that it knew that all along and suddenly there's a new route in front of me.

On the interstate, Tom Tom tells me to keep in the left lane or keep in the right lane. Not sure if this is linked to how slow I'm driving (you're doing 15 miles under the speed limit, get in the left lane immediately). I have some even more helpful back-seat drivers informing me how long it is going to take to get there.

Nearing the exit, there's big signs to get off at an earlier exit for NASA. Tom Tom is insistent that there's still two miles to go before exitville, as are the back seat drivers who are siding with Tom Tom. Fine... we get there to find the exit is closed. At the next exit, we get off and I rebel against Tom Tom turning back around to get on to the interstate and head back the way I was coming.

I believe that Tom Tom is biased against left hand turns, preferring drivers to make a series of 34 right hand turns to avoid making one left-hand turn at a set of traffic lights where there is a left turn arrow.

Now (no thanks to Tom Tom), I'm on NASA road, and it's next turn NASA. Tom Tom is screaming at me to make a right hand turn. I' on NASA road (Tom Tom is showing the route going off to the right). So I turn, and Tom Tom next tells me to turn into what turns out to be a church parking lot.

Tom Tom wants me to find religion because I have problems following directions?

I find an actual road again, and Tom Tom tells me to make a left turn. This is the first left turn it's permitted me to make, so what the hell - let's do it. This takes me to an intersection with... mircale of miracles, NASA Road! I think straight across the road is NASA, but Tom Tom wants me to turn left. I am overruled by the Tom Tom worshippers and make the left, sailing right past the entrance to NASA. There's nowhere to turn back around! I go back along the road (at this point Tom Tom has, in a satisfied smug tone, told me that I've reached my destination and now isn't even showing that I'm on a road at all.

A probably illegal U-turn later and I'm back on NASA road, and at my destination.

Tom Tom is unplugged. I like maps.

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