THE BLOG

When GPSs Collide

07/15/2014 11:05 am ET | Updated Sep 14, 2014

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Life in the Boomer Lane has noticed very lately that her two GPS systems (car and phone) have decided to join both the Middle East and Congress in their inability to cooperate in any way whatsoever. At exactly the same moment, they (the phone and the car) chose to enter a state of reality so warped, that Leonardo DiCaprio could star in the film.

LBL's car is a 2001, with a 2001 GPS system. When LBL purchased her car, the technology was state-of-the-art. Now, like LBL's body parts, state-of-the-art has morphed into state-of-the-planet, a devastating inability to work together to achieve anything positive. The technology is so primitive (in the car GPS, as well as in LBL's body parts), most people stare, point and ask "What is that?"

Instead of a full color little car on a full color road, LBL's GPS screen is a wimpy washed out attempt at color, and her car is represented by a triangle. The triangle moves along a route on a crude map. Sometimes the little lines on the map become segmented and then go off in different directions. Sometimes they look like what comes out of your copy machine if you yank the paper out before the printing is actually finished. Sometimes everything looks momentarily like the chromosomes found in the brains of any of the Housewives shows.

Having replaced the disk only once in the last 13 years, LBL's GPS system is, of course, entirely unaware of communities built since 2005, or of new highways. A lot of addresses LBL plugs in are changed to addresses the system has in stock, rather than where LBL actually wants to go. LBL had to drop certain friends who live in newer communities and stick with people who live in older ones.

When LBL purchased her iPhone 5 almost two years ago, she not only became part of the "in" crowd, she now had access to a new GPS technology that would allow her to see full color graphics and cute cars, as well as resurrecting her relationships with the friends she had dumped. She could now use her iPhone as her main GPS and her car as her back up. A hysterical call to Now Husband was a second backup. Her own brain remained a distant third backup, doomed to spend its entire career on the bench, watching all the action.

This system worked pretty well until about six months ago, when LBL and Now Husband had an unlooked-for adventure trying to navigate from Newark Airport to Beloved Daughter's home in Brooklyn. LBL noticed that the iPhone GPS was starting to exhibit disturbing signs of dementia, including repeatedly leading LBL and Now Husband to the back gate of a large cemetery. In the last six months, the dementia has accelerated to an alarming degree. During the same six month period, LBL's car GPS has been afflicted by the same rapid deterioration. What is fascinating to LBL is that, in most cases, the phone and the car are now working against each other.

LBL always has both going at the same time now. When the phone instructs LBL to turn left, the car instructs her to turn right. When the phone instructs her to take the northbound exit, the car instructs her to take the southbound exit. When the phone tells her to make a U-turn (U-turns being its preferred mode of getting from Pt A to Pt B), the car barks out "Straight on!" One of them speaks very loudly (the car), while the other speaks very softly (the phone). Neither ever apologize for leading LBL the wrong way down one-way streets, directly into dead ends or construction sites, or headlong into private driveways.

LBL has considered getting a new car GPS DVD ($200) and/or a new phone ($250). Or, she can save $450 and bump Now Husband up to Position No. 1. Or she can stay home. For the moment, Now Husband is attempting to calibrate the phone's compass. Apparently, this has never been done before. Also, apparently, LBL never knew she had a phone compass. Or rather, she knew she had a compass but never knew it had to be calibrated.

Now, if Now Husband could figure out a way to re-calibrate LBL's brain compass, LBL could finally get off the bench and join the game.

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