I have loved to drive since I discovered the freedom a beat-up patched-together oil-guzzling 1971 Ford Pinto afforded a high school man destined for good times. Cruising roads I’d never traveled, discovering unmarked short cuts, and shaving seconds off trips brought the contentment Daniel Boone must have felt as he explored new frontiers.
Now that I’m wiser (or at least older) I use road maps to plan trips. I have several of those book-style maps including both of the Washingtons, both of the Virginias, and North Carolina. Detours on old state routes have saved my bacon numerous times when interstate highways experience the pain and discomfort of frequent constipation.
Technology-savvy drivers rely on GPS. The service is available as an app for smartphones, in dedicated standalone boxes, and as a feature built into the dashboard. The driver punches in the destination address and listens closely to the system’s instructions. The display can be configured to include elapsed trip time, estimated time of arrival, even current speed and compass direction. The last thing I need is more distractions when I’m driving, so I delegate GPS operation to the copilot though I do sneak a peek at the numbers once in a while.
The lady in my GPS box, I’ll call her Broomhilda, hates me and exacts her revenge at the most inopportune moments. She swapped a Las Vegas street map for a remote section of North Carolina’s mountains when I needed her guidance on a foggy drive. Downtown Los Angeles replaced Seattle on a desperate mission to connect with a ferry ride across the Puget Sound. Many times Broomhilda practices her silent treatment and displays a dark screen with “acquiring satellite” in bold letters. She pouts long after I’ve checked the hard copy map and reacquired my way.
What causes her angst? Broomhilda boils with anger when I scorn her input and refuse to turn right, for example. Her warnings grow in intensity, “Turn right in 200 feet. Turn right in 50 feet. Turn right.” A short silence follows broken by her icy voice uttering a single word, “Recalculating.” The tone conveys unmistakable disgust, and I think I hear a muttered, “Men!” She keeps score, too. After three unauthorized turns Broomhilda fetches her eye of newt and casts a spell on the driver.
I discovered Broomhilda lives with Nice Howard. Howard’s stuck in the box until the informed driver pushes the correct sequence of buttons to free him. Howard takes unplanned course corrections in stride, and his pleasant “recalculating” communicates his understanding of real world driving obstacles, driver’s prerogatives, and so on. Howard gets that driving is a pleasure, and he works with the driver to create happy motoring memories. The world needs more Howards.
Howard makes serious mistakes, though, like urging me to turn into the rush hour stream of cars careening down the off ramp of an interstate. Once he locked me into a holding pattern. When I passed the same building for the third time I realized Howard was stuck in a loop. Recently Howard insisted I turn right…into a ditch and over the hillside. Howard, my man, I thought we were best buds! What happened?
I’ve figured out the force behind Howard’s misdirection. He directs the trip, yet Broomhilda stands beside him, rolling pin in hand, threatening to make his life miserable if he does not comply with her wishes to send me in random directions. That woman is insatiable in her quest for payback.
I often need direction, and sometimes I ask for help. That night in Seattle I pulled into a convenience store and asked a stranger how to find the ferry terminal. He’d lived in that area so long he’d forgotten the street names but offered to lead the way in his AMC Gremlin so I could follow. As we traveled down increasingly narrow streets and alleys I figured I’d make the morning news…unidentified man found dead. At the peak of my uncertainty a right turn deposited us onto a 4-lane, and the ferry entrance beckoned from the end of the street. The stranger flashed his lights, honked, and disappeared into the night.
At other times, though I am directionally clueless, I stumble in my lost-ness determined to reacquire my bearings on my own no matter how many times I backtrack. Believers, that display of pride is counterproductive. We have GPS–God Positioning System–at our disposal. Consulting Him for guidance is always the best option. David, the Psalmist, says it best:
For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8