One of my favorite techno gadgets is the little Garmin GPS my son gave me a while back. He knows what a map nut I’ve always been, and I’m sure he hoped that with it I’d fearlessly go forth and conquer the greater Denver metro. Truth is, simply having it has not made me drive more, any more than owning a nifty vacuum cleaner has made me vacuum more. I have, however, spent lots of time plopped on the sofa entering the locations of every place within 50 miles that I might ever want to get to, loading a picture of the grandkids to greet me when I turn it on, and choosing which little car I’d most like to drive across its map (the black sports car).
Being loathe to glue (permanently!) a mounting disk to my car’s still-nice 17-year-old dashboard, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the best spot for the removable suction-cup bracket doodad. My rear-view mirror is already annoyingly low, so below and behind it is out of the question. The bottom center of the sloping windshield is completely out of reach. The lower front corner of the driver’s side window blocks my view of the outside mirror (not to mention making it impossible to open the window). And there isn’t a single spot on the dashboard flat enough to hold a suction cup. A spot in the upper left corner of the windshield is flat enough, but interferes with swinging the visor from front to side. The cupholder doesn’t close tightly enough to hold it. It will work while lying in the passenger seat, but I can barely hear it from there. I finally wedged the entire mount into a little coins-and-junk slot under the radio. It’s lower than I’d like, but so far it hasn’t moved.
To date my trusty Garmin has guided me to Estes Park, a 65-mile drive I already knew by heart, and to my brother’s house west of Boulder, which I can get to with my eyes closed. Mostly it comes in handy for reminding me to turn off the expressway when I’m coming home from points northwest. (If I’m not paying attention and miss that turn, it takes me at least another half hour to get home.)
There was one awful day I thought I’d turned my Garmin into an expensive paperweight. I’d run its battery down and for the first time ever, plugged in the car charger. Several more hours of off-and-on use and then suddenly — a black screen. Dead. Nothing. When I got home, nothing in the instructions or on the Garmin website suggested what I might have done or if, where, or how the device could be fixed. Finally, on some obscure website, I found the answer. There’s a tiny little reset button on the back, under the flip-up antenna, that I’d never noticed. If you hold it down for 8-10 seconds, your “dead” Garmin might live again. Mine did. (Neither the instructions nor the Garmin website mentioned a reset button.)
I call Garmin’s female voice “Nuvi,” and it’s funny to hear how she sometimes mangles her text-to-voice translations. Not so funny is how exasperated she sounds when I don’t follow her instructions and she is forced to say, “RE-calculating (sigh).” She needs an attitude adjustment.
She made up for it this week, though. I was approaching the doctor’s office and for the first time actually noticed what she was saying as I turned into the parking lot:
“Arriving Smith John Maryland”
That Nuvi. Such a kidder. I’d labeled the doctor’s location “Smith, John MD.”