Outwitting GPS

by Alan Magill

I know GPS is the rage today (and yesterday) but when I drove we had to do things like plan out our route before we left, and if necessary consult a map and ask directions. So I find it quite amusing when a car service driver picks me up and I give him an address, which is basically three blocks up and one block to the right. And despite the fact he is double parked and blocking traffic from behind him and I am TELLING him how to get to the destination, we don’t move anywhere as he has to key in the coordinates of where we are and where we are going. Which prompted the following story.

JOEL needs to bring food to a party. It’s in another part of his huge apartment building which has the same address but he can’t get to it by walking through the building. He has to go outside and walk up the block about 80 feet. But he can’t walk that distance as there is a bad ice storm making any kind of walking very dangerous. So he calls a car service to drive him that eighty feet. When the car comes he bundles up and walks gingerly and enters.

“Where you going?” asks the driver.

Joel says, “It’s the first door on the right, about eighty feet up.”

“I need an address,” says the driver.

Joel smiles and says, “Normally I would give it to you but it’s the same address as where we are.”

The driver is not amused. “If you don’t give me an address then we cannot go anywhere.”

Joel decides, when in Rome, so he tells the driver the address of the huge building—”1416 Oliver Street” hoping that will satisfy his need for clarity and then he could guide him to that nearby entrance.

“Thank you,” says the driver and he starts keying in 1416 Oliver Street in his GPS.

“No, no, no,” says Joel. “That won’t work!”

The driver gives Joel an icy stare and says, “Look, I don’t tell you how to do your job, don’t tell me how to do mine!”

Joel doesn’t have the will to press his case further and he just says “Okay.”

The driver keys in “1416 Oliver Street” and his gaze is affixed intently on his screen. With his GPS search complete, he puts the car in gear and says, “Now we can go.”

But before he pulls out, he looks to his right and sees the address. “1416 Oliver Street.” He says, We’re here. That’ll be 8 dollars.”

“But we haven’t gone anywhere!” exclaimed Joel.

The driver calmly says, “Will you take a look at the address please? And don’t give me a hard time. This is my last fare of the night.”

“You expect me to give you money for nothing!”

“Either you pay or I’ll report you. And you will never ride this car service again.”

Joel says, “But I need this car service.”

Joel tries to think his way out of the dilemma. “If I give you the nine dollars . . . a tip, you know . . . you go home from here, right?”

“That’s right,” said the driver. “I have a nice dinner waiting for me.”

“Is your home straight ahead?”

“You don’t need GPS to find it.”

“No, of course not.”

Joel finds his most cooperative tone and says,”I wonder if you could do me a big favor.”

“What is it?”

“Here’s the nine dollars,” says Joel, as he hands the driver the money.”

“Thank you.”

“Could you just drive me up a little ways. I’ll tell you where to stop. It’s not far at all. It’s like eighty feet.”

“Sure no problem,” says the driver as he puts the car in gear and moves forward.

After five seconds, Joel says, “Stop here please.”

The driver stops.

“Thank you so much,” says Joel as he goes to get out of the car.

“It’s two dollars for the extra stop.”

Joel smiles and reaches into his pocket and gives the driver another two dollars.

As Joel exits the car, the driver says, “When you need a ride home, just call the base and they’ll send you another driver.”

“I’ll be sure to do that,” says Joel. As he walks into the building, food in hand, he is glad that he has learned how to navigate the new normal of getting around.

  1. Wonderful story Alan, the world we live in is often difficult to navigate since humans are now tied to technology more closely than one another. Congratulations on publication.


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