The other day my son asked me how people used to get around before Global Positioning Systems, or GPS. I’ve gotten so accustomed to relying on a GPS to help me find my way, I actually had to think about it for a while.
I told him that for years we used to look a lot of things up on MapQuest and print out directions to take with us before we left . And before that, we made sure the car was stocked with maps of whatever state we were crossing or city we were in. I remember driving across the country for two days with at thick notebook of maps for each state we crossed. And I’m pretty sure we padded a lot more time into car trips in case we got lost.
Just the other day I found a stack of car maps in my garage and couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I didn’t have the heart to throw them away. I’m sure there’s some kind of craft project I could do with them, if I was crafty. Wallpaper the dining room with them? That could be cool. And come to think of it, should maps be saved in case there is an Apocalypse and we lose power to map by computer? Something to think about. Clearly, we take computerized mapping for granted.
All who know me realize that calling me geographically challenged is an understatement, so I am especially reliant upon my GPS. One of my dear friends who I have known since second grade is equally challenged in this area. Back in college, we were known to entirely miss highway exits and end up an hour out of the way — sometimes in the wrong state — before we realized. We went off of memory for some road trips, and that was a dangerous prospect when the two of us were in a car together. Did I really just admit that? Yes.
I used to call another dear old friend my “Geographical Yoda” because if I was lost anywhere in my home town, I could call her and she could direct me by phone. She was my OnStar before OnStar existed. And I didn’t even drive a Cadillac.
I think of the generations who have never known mapping any other way and I am glad that I can read an old fashioned map (for the most part). But today I am ever so grateful for my GPS.