GPS: Is It a Find?
For the holidays, I am torn between asking for pearl earrings and a GPS unit. I need the former because I recently lost one of my earrings, and every proper girl needs a pair. For the latter, well, to be honest, I could get lost in a driveway. I never seem to know which way is up or out.
According to multiple studies, including the Swedish Research Institute of Trade, the portable GPS system is going to be one of the most popular Christmas gifts this year. What would I do with all of my newfound time, I wondered?
Before begging Santa for a device, I decided to take one for a test drive this weekend. A pal recently acquired a Garmin, and he loves it like a father loves a child--pure adoration and blind to its faults. He could not imagine his life before GPS. (I could: It involved countless U-turns, front seat road rage and gas station stops for directions.)
When driving, I am like a puppy with my head hanging out of the window. I love to breathe in the air of a new destination, staring at the scenery and soaking up the sights whizzing by. I love to stop short if I see something of interest, even if it's not on my itinerary or makes me a tad late for my hotel check-in, dinner, etc. That was then. With the GPS stuck on the windshield like a small TV, just inches from my eyeballs, my head swiveled inward, not out. Meanwhile, my eyes fixated on the cartoon car driving down the illuminated pink road, taking a left, going straight, only 1.2 miles to go, estimated arrival time of 6:15. No, make that 6:18, because Little Miss GPS did not factor in traffic.
I have to admit, I did appreciate not getting lost. I didn't miss having to ask random strangers for directions, then trying to decipher said directions. In addition, the gadget kept the mood in the car much calmer than usual. The frustration level dropped to Blue -- Guarded, because I still was a bit doubtful of its claimed abilities. (What about dirt roads? What happens when there is no street address? Huh??)
But I also felt that I had become so focused on watching the computer that I: 1) drove like a Granny, barely keeping up with the speed limit; 2) did not enjoy any of my surroundings, except the points of departure and arrival; and 3) worried that I'd missed out on a lot of capricious stops that make travel more than just a commute from Place A to B.
So, with the holidays nearing, I am still undecided. If I pick the GPS, I think I will use it more when it's crucial I be on time or if the roads or route are notably confusing. But when up for a crazy excursion, I will keep the gizmo locked in the trunk. On the other hand, pearls work well in most situations. Decisions, decisions. . .
Help me with my gift list: pearls or a GPS unit?
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