Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Love for Tom

I freely admit it – I have no innate sense of direction. I can get lost going around the block. More than once I've pulled into a center travel stop off a major highway, filled up with gas and coffee, and promptly headed back in the direction from which I'd come. The problem was even worse when I was traveling on country roads – which I have to do quite often for my non-writing job. As a coping mechanism, I'd make notes to myself – right turn, left turn, two miles past the yellow house, etc. I could usually find what I was looking for, but getting back home was a real challenge even with the post-it notes turned upside down.

Recently, I took a trip back to a town where my family and I had lived for several years, starting when I was in the third grade. I hardly recognized anything. No familiar landmarks. Nothing. My brother, two years younger than I, and only a second grader the last time he'd been to the location, knew exactly where to turn off the country road to get to the place where our grade school used to be located (the building was no longer there). Do you think there is a GPS gene? Is this a male versus female trait?

In my defense I never had to read a road map until I was in college. How does that happen? Why didn't someone teach me how to read a map in Driver's Ed? Of course, those old folded maps you purchased at gas stations, didn't always give you enough information to make a travel decision. Was that dashed line a goat trail or a perfectly passable two-lane road?

On-line Google and Yahoo travel maps with turn-by-turn directions substantially improved my life! Of course I still had to read and drive at the same time – which was always tricky in traffic. And what happens if you're in the wrong lane to make your turn? Once you're off the Google map, what do you do? I know what I did. I circled a lot. Two years ago I circled St. Louis for half a day – and visited three states - before finding the one I-44 W connection.

This Christmas, all that changed. This Christmas I fell in love. His name is Tom Tom.

I received a portable Garmin Tom Tom gps unit as a gift. Now I always know where I am, where I'm going, and when I'm going to get there. Life is good.

Last week I drove from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Love Is Murder book conference in Rosemont, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) without even one missed turn. Snow was blowing the last hour and I couldn't see the exits, much less read the road signs, but my buddy Tom kept talking to me, telling which lane to get in and when to turn, turn, turn.

In the hotel bar I told my publisher Karen Syed about my new love. She agreed that he was a great asset on a long trip, but warned me about becoming too dependent. Some day Tom might not be there. Her own Tom had experienced sudden death on her drive from Maryland. At a complete loss and feeling betrayed, she'd had to call her husband and get driving directions via her cell phone.

I guess at some point in any relationship, the romance is over. I'll try to prepare myself for it. Maybe buy a few maps and stuff them in the glove box. Just in case.

But for now, Tom is here, glowing brightly on my dashboard. My love for him knows no end.

Evelyn David
(directionally challenged no more)


  1. Experienced the joy of the Garmin on a trip last fall to Massachusetts. Ours has a female voice--sort of like Diane Sawyer's. I have to say that if I made a decision that she didn't like, or decided to turn earlier than she had instructed, she sounded QUITE disappointed. Maybe she's a mom with a guilt gene? Maggie

  2. Oh, you are SO right. After many days and nights of map refolding, tryign to read the map in the light from inside the glove compartment,and relying in mapquest only to make one wrong turn and be in the geographical twilight zone, I said to my husband: we have to get a GPS.

    Why? he asked. We never get lost.

    I love him. But we ALWAYS get lost. And besides that, the stress level of worrying, the whole way, about whether you'll be late or if you're going completely the wrong direction is such a waste of time.

    Then we got Jeeps. That's what we call her. You know: G P S. Jeeps.

    Our GPS voice has kind of a weird and indescribable accent. Sort of like someone from the UK who was taught American English via hooked on phonics. So some words, well, they don't sound exactly right.

    But whoa. She certainly knows where she's going. We're in love with Jeeps. Even my husband agrees its an amazing device.

    Not since: the fax. The ATM. Tivo. Direct deposit. Email. Diet Coke. Has anything been such a life-changing discovery.

    So glad you love Tom Tom. May you find your way to living happily ever after.

  3. I too have a Garmin. I think there's something abut the whole writing thing that may link with the directional impairment. (I certainly HOPE something positive came with the directional impairment.) But it is just the most marvelous thing in my life. She never yells at me when I make a wrong turn. She just says, "Recalculating."


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