If my GPS could talk

This morning Chickadee had an appointment at Emory for chapter 593 in Mystery Rash: Where Is It Now, And Which Med Student Hasn’t Seen It Yet?, and because getting into Atlanta on a weekday is always an enormous clusterfuck, we left nearly three hours before her scheduled arrival to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN of getting there on time.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha. My optimism! It never fails to slay me.

There’s this whole time window calculation with heading into the city, too, where if your appointment is too early you get stuck in rush hour GOING, but if it’s too late you get stuck in rush hour coming BACK, and then there’s this whoooole fuzzy gray area where you’re likely to catch the tail end of rush hour no matter what you do, and so leaving at this time is functionally the same as leaving half an hour earlier, blah blah blah blah. I thought I had it figured out, is my point.

But I was wrong, because: Rain. RAIN! OH NOES! Quick, everyone veer off the road! Still: THREE HOURS. For a drive that should take 90 minutes, tops. What could possibly go wrong?

Just let me say right here that when it gets to the point where Chickadee is making comments like, “Mom. Language!” you know it’s a… colorful… adventure. Apparently when it’s drizzling in Georgia your driving choices are as follows:
A) Drive really fast without your lights on.
B) Turn your lights on, but drive really slow in the left lane.
C) Have one or both tail lights out, but weave in and out of traffic, slamming on the brakes at regular intervals.
D) Continue texting and driving so that you drift out onto the shoulder periodically, then nearly cause an accident while drifting back to the actual lane.
E) Flip your car over somehow.
F) Drive normally and swear a lot at all the morons.

But see, the good news is that my current GPS has not just maps but also traffic updates and something called IQ Routes where it’s always working to drive me insane figure out the fastest way to get where you’re going. Even though I know how to get to Atlanta from here (drive west until surrounded by a lot of very expensive cars), I always use the GPS because it will know when there’s accidents and construction and will occasionally reroute me. There’s a little progress bar thingy down the righthand side of the display that will show things like a teeny tiny cartoon construction dude with a teeny tiny shovel, or a teeny tiny car on its side, usually with a notation of the delay with something like “20 minutes” or whatever. Very helpful.

When the GPS realizes that I’m about to spend half an hour sitting on the highway waiting for stupid people to get out of the way, it will often offer me an alternative. It looks like this:

If I say yes, theoretically the new, faster route is calculated and I am taken on my way without delay. This is particularly useful for someone like me with zero inborn sense of navigation, because I have sometimes gone as much as 2/3 of the route on surface streets with the GPS guidance, and left to my own devices I would never exit the highway because I know the highway gets there eventually, but those other streets could go anywhere.

Anyway. I am accustomed to starting out on the highway and being prompted for a route change, because there is always at least one traffic issue along the way. No biggie.

This morning I was prompted to change routes due to an accident. The new route would be 15 minutes faster, did I want it? Heck, yeah! I switched routes and was shuttled to a smaller highway. Excellent. Except… in very short order another tiny sideways car popped up and a delay was registered in my arrival time. And then another. And then another. BUT WAIT! The GPS found a new route that would be 8 minutes faster. Did I want it? Sure! We turned again. And then were delayed again. And offered another alternate route. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Due to the early hour and various other circumstances, I had had an inordinate amount of coffee before leaving the house, and then I brought a cup of coffee with me, as well. As we crested two hours in the car (with our destination still maddeningly far away), I became aware that a good portion of my current crankiness was because I really, really needed to pee. And the GPS kept registering delays, kept offering different routes, and finally I stopped at a gas station and ran into the bathroom even though we were going to be late. Better to be late and dry than late and… well, you know.

Chickadee found the situation with the GPS hilarious. “They should totally change what it says to you,” she said. “It’ll be all, ‘Hey, I found something faster? Want it? LOL, j/k, NOPE! Sucker!!'”

She is willing to lend this idea to TomTom free of charge.

Personally, I don’t believe the GPS talks in LOL-speak. I think it talks in that humorless, fem-bot not-quite-British accent and is more like:

Your current route is now delayed by fifteen minutes. I have found an alternate route which is faster by seven minutes. Do you wish to change routes now? Really? Are you sure? You do know that as soon as you say yes, five cars are going to pile up just a mile or so down the road, right? Okay, listen, I’m in no hurry, that’s fine. Your new route is… well… yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh, sorry, you are now delayed by twenty-five minutes. My bad! I have found an alternate route which also sucks and takes forever. Do you feel like mixing it up or should I just quietly punch myself in the face and save you the trouble?

It’s okay, though, because we walked in just sixty seconds late and it was fine. Except that then Chickadee announced that she is “all done” taking any medication for her skin condition and that she’s not interested in treating it any further because apparently she went to med school while I wasn’t paying attention.

That totally made the three-hour trek there and the nearly-burst-bladder worth it. Yep. In other news, my GPS will now be making all of my parenting decisions for me.

Your current route is now delayed by excessive eye-rolling and poor decisions. Open wine?

You have suspended all electronic devices and are now delayed by excessive screaming. Run away from home now?

(I think it’s good that I don’t get bitter about this sort of stuff.)


  1. bryan

    Isn’t talking the point of a gps? Let me know if you detour around Doraville, because that sure would make my stalking easier.

  2. Ei

    I completely heard Siri reading that.

  3. kellyg

    Having lived in the metro Atlanta area for 15 years, all I can say about your description of driving in the rain is — yeah, sounds about right. We always said you needed to add at least 30 minutes per highway you used or crossed to any estimation of driving time . And if it isn’t sunny, blue skies and 75 degrees, double it.

    There are lots of things I miss about living in the ATL, but the traffic is not one of them.

  4. addy

    So, yeah … about those gps things. See, we used it this weekend cuz there is one turn I forget on this very long and incredibly boring 5 hour trip we make periodically. And just for shits and grins the gps took us on an entirely different route that added 1.5 hours to our trip. Thru the backroads with sketchy lookin’ Oklahoma countryside – for 6.5 hours. Seriously, do these things report back to someone on the hijinks they sported that trip?

  5. Korinthia Klein

    We have that GPS and her voice is weird. She has a slight whistley-lisp on her S.

  6. My Kids Mom

    Every time you write about coming into Atlanta for an appointment I think I should offer to meet you somewhere and escort you in. I always think I have Atlanta traffic mastered and then I realize that, no, I just try not to drive in it.

  7. Otto

    Wait , if we move closer to Atlanta we get more expensive cars?

    Not the right takeaway?


    • js

      I will drive in Atlanta all day long for a Range Rover or Porsche Cayenne. Just sayin’.

  8. Kyle

    My GPS shows me the traffic jams and pile-ups but doesn’t give me alternatives. When I turn off to another route it just gets mad and tells me to “make a LEGAL u-turn” in that snippy voice.

  9. Lisa Kay

    At the end of the week, I’m heading to Atlanta to pick up my daughter, who has been there for 6 weeks. (OK, well, technically she’s in Suwahnee, but I hear I have to drive in Atlanta to get there…or something.) I’m a little worried now…

  10. js

    My GPS once took me and my very tiny baby girl through a very shady part of Chicago because it was a supposed detour that was faster. I have never wished I kept a big gun underneath my seat so bad in my life! I hate my GPS but I can’t live without it, like the best and the worst boyfriend ever.

  11. Tenessa

    Yeah. Atlanta traffic. I used to live in Roswell right on the Alpharetta border. I went to school at GPC in Dunwoody. It was exactly 11 miles from my apartment to the outer edges of the front GPC parking lot. It took me an hour and a half to drive to school every morning. Fun! It makes traffic other places funny, so there’s that.

  12. ~annie

    I hate GPS. I like to keep my eyes on the road, so I am only listening to the voice, which always tells me to take the turn/exit right AFTER I have passed it. On my last road trip through Ohio it kept telling me to take some non-existent exits to get on the road that I was ALREADY on. I do better navigating by the sun.

  13. Elizabeth

    So… is it not an option to drive to the outskirts and take public transit in?

    • Kate

      As someone who used to live in Atlanta, that city and the words “public transportation” do not belong in the same sentence. It can get you to and from the airport, but not anywhere else, effectively at least. And certainly not the Emory area. If you need to go that way, you basically resign yourself to traffic hell.

  14. Aimee

    I would pay good money for a GPS with a sense of humor.

    • gilly

      one of the voices on my GPS is a Hungarian grandmother who tells me when I am turning onto a highway to
      “not go too fast because you know that makes me worry”
      Also that
      ‘if you listened to me you are now where you wanted to be’

      she is cute

  15. Frank

    My Mom’s GPS shows a picture of a car laying down skid marks and makes a tire screeching sound whenever she goes against its directions. It was funny the first couple times…..

  16. KSM

    DC is like that in the rain as well. It must be a southern thing.

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