This is old news, I know it is, but I kept meaning to write about it and then life exploded and I never did, and it is REALLY SUPER IMPORTANT that you know that you can get Bert and Ernie on your GPS if you didn’t already know.
If you DID already know, sorry. This video always makes me laugh, even though I’ve already seen it a hundred times:
I contend that NO ONE who 1) owns a TomTom and 2) grew up watching Sesame Street could learn of this information and not immediately run to the associated website to download your favorite muppet voices.
Or—if you’re me—if you meet those two conditions you will then bat your eyelashes at your cute husband who always does your TomTom map updates (not that it’s helped with that one new highway ramp that TomTom STILL thinks doesn’t exist, where every time you take it the dumb GPS thinks you’re driving in the forest) and muse that your life simply will not be complete until Ernie can give you driving directions.
Otto, being the incredibly patient and tolerant man that he is, went ahead and downloaded the Bert and Ernie navigation option and set my GPS to use it. I could hardly wait to make my first direction-assisted journey to test it out.
Here allow me to pause a moment and say that the TomTom which currently lives in my car is the third GPS unit I’ve owned. I am so directionally impaired, I need three of them. Well, no. We got one as a gift, I bought another on a great deal a couple of years later so that we could have one for each car, and then the TomTom was one of those “deals too good to pass up” kinds of things a couple of years after that. Each time we get a new one, I get the new unit, and Otto takes the old one. This is because I need the GPS to find the grocery store and Otto has an internal compass and only ever uses the GPS if directed to drive to Upper Slobovia while wearing a blindfold, GO NOW! I’m telling you this so that you might not laugh at me quite so much when I tell you that I don’t really know how to do the settings on the TomTom. I haven’t had it for long (ummmm okay, I’ve had it for a year) and it’s totally different than the last one, so other than telling it “take me to this destination” I’m sort of clueless.
So. With Bert and Ernie as my copilots, I set off on a trip at some point. I don’t remember where I was going. I don’t remember who was in the car with me, even. I remember NOTHING about that trip EXCEPT that by the third “Turn LEFT!” “Which way, Ernie?” “LEFT!” exchange, I wanted to run over both Bert and Ernie and then set them on fire and run them over again. Holy hell. Nostalgia gave way to COMPLETE ANNOYANCE in about five minutes, and every time Ernie laughed (because directions are FUNNY!) another happy memory of him squeaking his rubber ducky to my preschool amusement died a violent death.
But of course… I couldn’t figure out how to switch it back to the pleasantly bland voice that simply told me to “turn left on Main Street” and “keep right ahead.” I had to wait until the next time I had Chickadee with me and she fixed it for me. Thank God.
Come to think of it, it seems like Chickadee is a frequent recipient of my GPS freak-outs. Hmmmmm.
Anyway! I mentioned that on Monday we had to do a round of doctors’ appointments in Atlanta, and you would think that by now I would absolutely know how to get there with my eyes shut, but you would only think that if you’d never met me, because of course I still use the GPS. Driving to Atlanta is SKEERY, man.
So we were driving along, and here’s another interesting thing about this TomTom: I bought this particular model because it came with TRAFFIC UPDATES. I would say that for the first six months or so during my ownership of it, I wondered if the TomTom with TRAFFIC UPDATES was GPSese for Malibu Stacy with NEW HAT. In other words, I saw no traffic updates. Then again, I don’t really go a ton of places. Finally, as the trips to Atlanta and other places became more frequent, we started seeing the GPS do things like flash a funny symbol and then announce, “On your current course, you are now traffic delayed by 3 minutes. You are still on the fastest route.” Which… okay? Thanks? I wasn’t really feeling the love for this feature.
BUT THEN. As we sped towards Atlanta on Monday, the GPS screen went blank and then was replaced with WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHANGE COURSE? The cheerful voice announced that our current route was now delayed by 65 minutes, and a new route would be 52 minutes faster, so did I want to switch to that one?
Chickie and I looked at each other, stunned. Apparently the GPS really CAN think! I said yes, sure, send me on the faster route. We then headed into Atlanta via a back way I’ve never taken before, and it was a perfectly smooth drive, and I later found out that there were two huge wrecks on the highway. Without the TRAFFIC UPDATES we would’ve gotten stuck and probably missed Chickadee’s appointments.
So I was feeling pretty kindly towards the GPS, I have to tell you. It saved us! It took us a way I never would’ve known about, it made life easier and better and more fulfilling! All of that.
But. We were headed to Emory. And the truth is that even directionally-impaired me could’ve found Emory from the highway, because we go there… oh, you know, ALL THE DAMN TIME. But because it’d taken us this back way, we came into town from a different direction. And the road the GPS wanted us to take to the hospital was closed. (Later I found out a pedestrian was hit there. NOT A GOOD DAY for Atlanta travelers, I tell you what.)
Well, you know, no problem. I kept trying to drive a different way and let the GPS recalculate our route. Except the GPS was CERTAIN that what we needed was to be directed back to the very same road which was closed. This particular traffic update hadn’t made it to the TomTom network, it seemed, and I began driving ever-more-frantically this way and that, PRAYING for the GPS to finally give up on redirecting me (again) to You Can’t Go This Way Street.
Eventually I made a large enough loop that I either ended up near another suitable road, or the GPS just gave up. We finally found ourselves at the hospital, and we made it to our appointments on time.
I have to say, the drive home was almost dull. Not quite dull enough for me to put Bert and Ernie back on, though.
[Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with TomTom. I bought this GPS unit with my own money and then decided to tell you about it purely because part of my brain that's supposed to be dedicated to navigational skills is instead stuffed full of the lyrics to every "Schoolhouse Rock" episode ever made, plus "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto."]