You are (not) here

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“Wherever you go, there you are.”

First, let me state for the record that I fully realize that you have only petty, first world problems if the extent of your trouble is the fact that the fancy navigational system in your automobile won’t allow you to find swanky ocean-front locations with quite the speed you’d wish.

Nonetheless, being thoroughly modern (and therefore somewhat helpless) folks we had made no real plans for our Florida road trip beyond collecting addresses which we could then plug in to the satellite driven navigational system in Mr. Wonderful’s vehicle.

My vehicle, it should be noted, does not have this system — we’ll call it OffPlanet — because I never go anywhere.

Mr. Wonderful, on the other hand, is going places and thus has the car to get him there. Thoroughly enthralled with this technology, we did not consult the automobile club or even go online for a map. We simply hopped in the car, pushed a button, and let the vehicle set our course for adventure.

Lost

Unfortunately, adventures we never counted on set in within the first 200 miles. While the navigational system was spot-on while the car was in motion, the moment we would stop it would lose all sense of itself.

OffPlanet knew when we went “off route” for such luxuries as gas and restroom breaks and OffPlanet was NOT amused.

We would be punished. We were effectively rendered hostage to the navigational equivalent of Hal the rogue computer from 2001 Space Odyssey.

After yet again sailing along for hours only to realize, with a start, that we must have lost our signal somewhere and thus had no idea if we should have actually turned left way back in, say, Georgia, we called the navigational technician for the umpteenth time to explain the problem (which was, it should be noted, always apparently fresh and new to them).

How in the world can a system tell me where to find fried mushrooms anywhere on the planet yet not manage to keep track of the fact that this is my sixth call to reset my system TODAY?

Voodoo

Imagine my surprise when a technical adviser declared that the only solution was to turn off the vehicle ignition, leave the key in the accessory position, open the driver’s door and allow it to remain that way for 20 minutes.

What runs this thing? Voodoo?

When I apprised Mr. Adviser of our exact location being the center of a three-lane Georgia highway (a fact he should have known) he inquired with what sounded like the utmost sincerity and what I can only assume was a straight face “is there a spot to the side where you could pull over?”

Voice rising to drown out the hysterical laughter of Mr. Wonderful and the two small wonders in the back, I explained to Mr. Navigational Technician through clenched teeth that while I appreciated OffPlanet’s commitment to finding me if I was involved in a vehicular crash, I didn’t think they should be quite so committed to actually CAUSING one.

Certainly a collision was bound to happen had I taken his advice to pull to the side of a south Georgia highway (speed limit 70 — actual speed 90 mph and up) and fling open my driver door.

I could already imagine some poor hapless southerner explaining to CNN that the fiery, multi-vehicle pile-up was apparently caused by some poor sap from Ohio struck with a sudden attack of stupid.

“She just flung open her car door right there on the side of the highway. Plumb crazy!”

Exasperated with my inability to risk life and limb to be a “team player” in helping to fix the pesky satellite problem, “Chad” the OffPlanet adviser and I finally clicked off with my fervent promise to shut off the vehicle, leave the key in the ignition, open the driver door for 20 minutes, and sacrifice a chicken at midnight while chanting at a later time.

To his everlasting credit Chad’s only response to my diatribe was a pleasant “Sounds good!”

Forget their first view of the ocean, their cousins, or Disneyworld, I fear that the children’s most entertaining memory of their first Florida Roadtrip will be “the time Mommy lost her mind on the highway.”

Later, I would learn that one should probably not vent quite so freely with the people who control the ability to turn on and off and/or lose their vehicle at will.

Payback

For the next 2,000 plus the navigation system attempted to send us down sand paths, unmarked roads, jogging trails and quite memorably kept INSISTING we should drive straight through what appeared to be a long vacated street effectively blocked by a HOUSE.

These instances came to be known as “The Revenge of Chad.”

You live. You learn. You get lost a lot. Still, being a thoroughly modern girl I would hit “redial” 1,000 times during that trip to try to get the navigational system to stick, but at no time did it ever occur to me to simply stop and purchase a $4 map.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt will use a compass on her next trip.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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