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GPS How It Changed My Life

Updated on April 8, 2021


GPS on a phone

What is a GPS

by Terri Mackinnon

For those that do not know what GPS actually is... in a nut shell... it's a tracking system created by the U.S government for tracking and spying that finally in the 80s was opened up to the public for it's use. It consists of three parts, satellites that orbit the Earth, Monitoring stations that record and transmit data and the actual GPS unit.

There are many providers for GPS units and two of the most recognized would be

Garmin and Magellan

OK now here is what I really think about them.

Every time I go out of my driveway with my GPS I know that it is ready and willing to take me to my final destination, eventually. But, also at this time I start to feel the added anxiety that the GPS has created in my life. Not only do I have the daily stresses of live, I now have the GPS to add even more to it. I shutter to think how smart these GPS really are and how much they are beginning to take over many peoples lives.

Having the opportunity to almost feel like you have been given your own crystal ball and you can see into the distance. Knowing what streets are coming up gives you some kind of superpower. It makes me wonder what our forever getting lost parents were actually missing. Although some seniors do have GPS (most were given by there tech driven kids) most seniors still believe that they ‘got by before and sure don't need any direction gizmo now' or ‘I'm getting too old to have to learn something new' either way both may be correct.

Can you imagine if our parents would have had GPS when we were growing up? "Pull over and ask someone" my mom would say or "look there's a gas station! Stop!" or even better "we could have been there if you would have only stopped a half hour ago to ask someone", all of us kids always fully agreed with mom. It might be the actual reason we would start out at the house and ask "are we there yet?" had we had GPS we could know that Dad was not just getting us lost... again.

I remember a time when my parents had purchased a new cottage about an hour and half from our home and invited all of us up there to see their new place and have Thanksgiving dinner. We headed out with the instructions given by my parents. Somehow we got lost and my now ex husband insisted that he would find the way there, even though he had never been in that area but his psychic ability would lead the way.

It unfortunately was long before GPS and cell phones existed. It took almost 8 hours and past dinner time before he would finally give in and get proper directions, ok yes I am still a little bitter about that one. More for the fact the kids in the back kept saying "are we almost there", and he would answer ....Soon!

The best part of having a GPS is you don't feel like you are driving alone. You actually get verbal instruction as to how to get to your destination either ‘in the shortest time, shortest distance' or probably the most used best one most use of highways', which one should Not consider necessarily the quickest route. If you go online you now also have new saying that can now be downloaded to your system. This could offer many interesting instructions to make your drive even better at least to humor yourself.

Putting a GPS in your car is also like having a backseat driver without the aggravation of them yelling ‘where are you going', ‘pull over and ask how to get there' or ‘watch for that car'... yadda, yadda. Many times I find myself yelling at the GPS, but I can actually do that knowing that I don't have to worry about hurting its feelings.

GPS has changed my life and not necessarily for the best. The anxiety that comes from knowing that at some point in my day I am going to be faced with the impeccable, "Recalculating route! Or "When possible make a legal U Turn". All I can say is "Not again! I was sure I turned at the right road" ...but yes each and every time I venture out I know that it's going to find out that I am semi-lost again.

Sometimes it's not always my fault. How many times I have turned at a street before or even worse right after. The ding, ding, ding of the GPS meaning here's your street NOW, NOW turn quick, sometimes doesn't happen until you get right into the middle of that intersection. I have also heard it tell me to also turn before I should have.

There are also many times that I am actually smarter then my GPS and know a route that it just doesn't want to acknowledge that would have got home quicker and easier but I still follow believing that the GPS is somehow going to transport me quicker to my destination.

It's always good to know that your system will start talking to you when you have three miles until your turn, but that just means for the next three miles I am going to be stressed knowing that I am going to have to make a turn and possibly get lost again.

Recently we traveled to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, I am not sure how we managed it but it was almost like our GPS was on holidays. Over and over we missed streets, went in the wrong direction and wanted to throw the unit in the Bay. I have never heard so many swear words at a piece of technology that we all still believe we now need. Somehow we even managed to get to Baltimore... as I said I think the GPS was sightseeing.

Remembering the rule of quickest time, most use of freeways, shortest distance according to how birds fly are not always easy to decide which one to take. What I really wish my GPS would be able to do is read my mind, to somehow know and warn me that the directions that I put into my system were actually wrong before I headed out twenty minutes late the next morning.

I also wish that it would pretend that I made the right travel decision for a change especially when the family is in the car. If it could only not let them know that I am a GPS idiot and lost again, or if I am going to get lost I would hope that it would take me to somewhere interesting... wait that did happen, we did get to visit Baltimore.

I love when you finally reach your destination and it tells you "You have arrived!" it's like a huge weight is finally lifted from my head, but them I realize there is still the return trip and now I have to figure out what is going to be the shortest time now?

Yesterday I was sitting in the living room and programming the GPS trying to figure out which way I was going to go the following day to get to my appointment. Everything was quiet and I was not moving at all when all of a sudden the GPS says out loud "Keep to the Left!" I couldn't help but laugh hysterically with my husband as we both looked at the unit and shook our heads... I said "Now do you see the problem". It really is not my fault the GPS has its own agenda.

Then I realized my GPS stood for (Getting People Somewhere!) ... now where? that's another story!


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