Thursday, June 25, 2009

He Blogs, She Blogs: Thank God for The GPS

Hey everyone! Sorry about last week, I know some of you (ahem, STEENKY BEE) were a little lost without He Blogs, She Blogs, but I was just coming back from my trip to San Diego and was even more discombobulated than usual (I know, you didn't think it was possible, did you?). But now we are back on schedule so none of you will be forced to watch Real Housewives of New Jersey or something equally horrible to pass the time.

Today, The Captain and I are going to discuss DRIVING. Yes, this is a good one, because I am sure all of us have been witness to some pretty interesting car ride arguments with our parents growing up, and of course we all said "Oh, I am NEVER going to be like THAT when I grow up and get married." But you did, didn't you? Oh, you didn't? OK, well, then I did, and I ain't ashamed to tell you about it. I'm just honest like that--all for you people. Man, I am not going to have ANY secrets left at this rate.

I remember growing up that my parents often had "heated discussions" (a.k.a. shout matches) while I sat in the backseat on our way to some family event. Back then there was no GPS and you had to rely on good ole directions scribbled down by hand on a scrap of paper. It was inevitable that you were going to get lost approximately 68% of the time, and then my dad's driving would become 10 times worse, my mother's voice would become 20 times louder and I would find myself holding my ears from the screams of "turn here, turn HERE!!"

Thankfully my dad wasn't one of those guys that wouldn't stop for directions, but we usually drove around for at least 45 minutes before he resorted to that. So by the time we got to our destination, usually at least an hour late, my parents were irritated and not speaking to each other and I had to pee reeeeaaaal bad.

So when I got married, I always told myself I would not be a passenger seat driver, that I would keep my cool while traveling with my husband (who is always the one to drive when we go out together) and that we wouldn't succumb to the whole cliche concept.

But what I didn't count on was that my husband likes to drive like he is trying to win The Amazing Race and that he has road rage with a capital "R." I would sit in the passenger seat, gripping the arm rest for dear life, sighing and huffing and puffing every time he stopped short and scowling every time he swore at someone in front of him or beeped his horn. Yes, I had turned into "that" wife. And I didn't like it one bit.

So I tried talking to him rationally. "Yelling and swearing is not going to make the people go any faster or drive any better," I would tell him calmly. "Just take a deep breath." He would try, but as soon as some person going 20 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone would get in front of us, I could see the smoke coming out of his ears. But he's getting better. And as soon as the kids came along, I played the safety card when it came to his "need for speed." This seems to have tamed his driving quite a bit, and I try to be more patient when it comes to his impatience with other drivers.

All I have to say is thank God for the GPS; however, don't put the two of us in a car together in downtown Boston, where EVERY TIME we have tried to get around there, the GPS has either taken us the wrong way or stopped working, because then the gloves are off and we are usually screaming at each other by the time we get to our destination. There is just something about getting lost that makes the person that is not driving feel like they know EXACTLY what to do and where to go and that it would never have happened if they had been driving. Needless to say, the driver doesn't appreciate it and having someone scream "turn here!" at the top of their lungs right as you are passing an exit is a tad frustrating. OK, it makes you want to punch them in the face.

But I am proud to say my husband and I have never punched each other in the face while driving, and we try very hard to make our trips nice and peaceful. But sometimes, just sometimes, those old habits (you know, the ones that die hard?) come back and the car becomes a war zone.

So I just remind myself that I love my husband.

And how much worse it would be without GPS...

Chad a.k.a. Captain Dumbass: The Male

Before we go anywhere, I should warn you that I asked my wife to proof this after she got home from work. Her first comment was, "this is pretty slapdash." It ended with, "this isn't about anything, it's just a meandering anecdote." Um... she may have a point.

Driving, it was my choice for a topic today. About five minutes after emailing Petra with it this morning she responded back that she was done. As usual, even though it was my idea, here I sit staring glassy eyed at the screen waiting for something shiny to distract me. Earlier tonight, when I first sat down to write this I did the same thing but then decided to distract you from my inability to slap together a cohesive post with a picture. I hadn't tried Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, and I'd heard that, image and video wise, it's pretty good.* So I bring up the page and search 'crazy driver.' This is what I get for the first photo.

Huh? This is supposedly a cat, but I'm thinking it looks a lot more like the alien from Lelo & Stitch. So then I wander off to do the dishes before my wife gets home and gives me the pimp hand and while I'm 'soaking in it (thanks Madge!),' I remember a time way back before we got married when we were driving across the country.

We'd spent the night in Winnipeg and set out the next morning for... Minneapolis? We went to the Mall of America, so wherever that is. Ok, we were driving across two countries, whatever. Anyway, it's morning rush hour in a strange city and we get totally lost. This is 1994 so there is no GPS or Google maps on the iPhone or Blackberry, just inexplicably contradictory road signs. Plus, we have mountains and an ocean where we live. If I don't know where I am here I just look for a landmark. Giant expanse of water? That would be West. Winnipeg? It's flat. Flat like it was levelled by glaciers 10,000 years ago. Ah, the animosity and finger pointing. Fifteen years later and the phrase, "at least I didn't get us lost in Winnipeg" still gets a rise out of whomever it's used on.**

But now it's 2009 and we all have access to crazy Star Trek gadgets that connect to satellites in geosynchronous orbits above us and can tell us kind of exactly where we are. Last week my oldest had a field trip and family members were invited. Our 'local' zoo is way to hell and gone from where we live so the night before I check Google maps to figure out where we're going. I saw that it was actually on the same route we take to go up and visit my family so I just make note of the cross street and go to bed happy. You know those roads that have an intersection at a little bend in the road and they turn into different roads? Didn't see that on Google. Remember me saying something about landmarks earlier on? Ya, that doesn't work out so well when you're surrounded by trees. We're in the middle of grassy fields and cottonwoods and all I can think of is M. Knight Shyamalan's last movie The Happening and that the trees are going to kill us.

With visions of our little six year old's tearful face when he got off the bus expecting to see his parents and didn't, I'm given the green light to drive. I pull the e-brake and throw the Caravan into a tire smoking 180 degree turn. We race through those country roads like we're in a rally car, getting air time over railroad crossings and sliding through corners like a Tokyo street racer. We found that damned zoo, and my little boys eyes stayed dry.

Was this post about driving or getting lost?

*Bing is actually pretty good for searching images. Much prettier than Google.
**I'm not pointing fingers, but I wasn't the one with the map in their hand, I was driving.


  1. FIRST!

    Wait, is it cool to be the first commenter on your own post? Wait, is it even still cool to be the first commenter at all??? I am so out of touch...

    Anyhoo, Captain, your post made me laugh, so no matter whether it was a long, rambling anecdote or not, it was awesome, as usual :)

  2. Great discussion my dad would NEVER ask for directions EVER! You knew he was lost when he started looking at the sun lol

  3. Whenever the hubby and I are driving in a new town he always, always asks; "Where do I turn and does anything look familiar?" WTF? My answer is; "We've been in this town the same length of time. Does it look familiar to you?".

  4. When my husband and I first got together he had been living in places where you only needed a bike to get around and therefore had let his license expire. I did all the driving. Which was fine by me. Now we take turns but I still do the majority of it. I often think I know where I am going, and it turns out I do not. I admit (here) that he is a better navigator then I am. I do suffer from a lead foot and a sense of road... let's call it "anger" rather then rage. I'm trying to be better about both. My husband would probably not agree with that statement.

  5. My dad didn't need to ask for directions, he practically inhaled the map before we went anywhere. My mom would either read or sleep. Yeah, my dad was pretty awesome. Now, when it came to moving furniture at home, that made the vein in his forehad stick out quite a bit..

  6. HA!!!! I just wanted to drop a child off at the hospital for blood work and someone decided I was doing it all wrong because well an extra 7minutes and the world will end!

  7. I think I got some bad crack last night.

  8. Captain - that'll teach you to buy crack in the shady parts of BC, lol

  9. I couldn't even read the rest of your post. That 'cat' skeeved me out.

  10. I would like it noted that while I was holding the map and giving out instructions, the driver wasn't following said instructions.

  11. I'm with Supreme Leader on this one. Actually, I usually am with S.L. And I didn't know there was a shady part of B.C.

  12. Okay, the first mistake was trying to be rational...oh, look, honey, shiny things! (screeechhh)(crash)

  13. Shady¿ Wha... hey? How did I make an upside down question mark? WTF?

    Ok, I don't get the shady reference.

  14. My dad would cringe when my mom would suggest asking for directions.
    Of course, gps has replaced dear old mom, now he justs grunts at "Susan"! (yeah the gps has a name)(lol)

  15. Me and my husband do pretty good when it comes to traveling. I usually print out all kinds of maps and directions and have everything ready to go. We have never used a gps, but luckily the hubs has no problem stopping and asking for directions. He will usually pull up to a place and send me in.... while he stays and hides in the car. We did get lost one time, in a very scary neighborhood. We got a little crazy with each other... but considering the situation I guess we did pretty good.

  16. Captain - the upside down question mark is really cool, I want to know how you did that!

    And I guess my "shady" joke didn't land right...oh well, scratch that one from the record, would ya? They can't all be gems...

  17. I'm so torn about GPS. On one hand, it's a gadget and cool tech. On the other, it's gotten me lost so many frakkin' times! The most recent, and worse, was sending me two hours out of my way up a twisty mountain road to the crater of a volcano.

    Captain Dumbass...huh?

  18. I'll have to give Bing a shot... sounds cool. As for driving, I prefer to figure it out on my own when I'm in my own city. I've recently found how fun it is to have a GPS but the bitch gets pretty condescending if she has to "recalculate" because you missed the turn due to her telling you to turn NOW instead of giving you fair warning and telling you to get in the far right lane in preparation for your next driving maneuver! I'm not bitter, really.

  19. I can totally relate to that little bit about the person not driving thinking they know exactly where to go and shouts out directions after it's already too late to turn. We just bought our first GPS and I'm hoping this will get rid of those "we're lost" arguments forever. I'm really not surprised about the GPS not working in Boston, I remember many a fight between my parents when we would drive into Boston from our little hick town in New Hampshire. I distinctly remember my father yelling at us to roll the windows up as we drove through a not very nice area while my mother had a white knuckle grip on her door handle...oh, good times!