Most people can remember a time before we could use smartphones to navigate the entire world, at the touch of a finger. I just barely remember these times. Waiting for my mother to look up and print out directions on MapQuest was almost as bad as having to wait for her when she began chatting with a friend during a trip to the grocery store. Luckily, the times of tangible paper maps and using a desktop to look for addresses and directions are far behind us.
Unfortunately for me, extenuating circumstances involving my iPhone have caused me to be reminded of a world without access to instant GPS. For the past few weeks my phone’s data and voice service has not been working. So, it basically functions as an iPod right now–I can use apps, and send and receive iMessages when I am connected to WiFi. I have no viable way to get directions on my phone while I am on the go.
This technical malfunction has been causing me to jump through a lot of hoops recently. The other day I was running errands, and needed to find a nearby place to get my oil changed. I tried, and failed, to search on maps for a Jiffy Lube, so I pulled into the nearest gas station. Walking up to the gas station attendant, I quickly realized I had all but forgotten how to ask for directions to another human being. I was already at the counter when I had this brain fart. The attendant looked at me, eyebrow raised. In a panic I said the first thing that came to my head was, ‘Siri, oil change place near me.’
Suddenly I realized that the attendant’s name was Jake, not Siri, so I improvised, “Jake, I need directions to the nearest place I can get my oil changed.”The moment those words came out of my mouth my heart began to race, I hadn’t asked a human being for directions for as long as I can remember. Would he even respond? Does he know his way around? How can someone get from point A to point B with out a digitally mapped network of streets and roads to consult? My anxiety went through the roof.
“Uh, yeah, there’s a Grease Monkey two blocks down 28th street.”
Siri had never given me a direction in terms of blocks.
The whole route had not entirely revealed itself to me, yet I was relieved. ‘At least I know where to go,’ I thought. Even still, It’s frustrating, to go through what seems like such on ordeal, only to be brought an inch closer to the end goal. It took every nerve I had to ask for directions, but only five seconds for Jake to tell me where to go. I wanted more. I needed turn-by-turn guidance. After some thought, I decided to forgo asking Jake to get in my car and navigate for me Siri-style. With his guiding words memorized, I pressed on in my quest for Grease Monkey.
My two-block journey down 28th street felt interminable. All alone on the road, I never felt more lost. That is, until I saw the giant red letters spelling out GREASE MONKEY. Finally, I made it! At the start it seemed as if I would never be able to reach my goal. I almost gave up multiple times, but my perseverance paid off! I arrived victorious, and felt more accomplished than I had in a long, long time.
My head remained big that day, swelled with pride in my antique navigational skills. In hindsight, I realize that my accomplishments were not so great. People navigated just fine without iPhones for many, many years before me. Perhaps it was about time I learned how to get around the old fashioned way.