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Serving: IN

The battles with GPS continue

Tom J. Bechman scarecrow
ONLY IN INDIANA: This could fit in the Spotted … in Indiana column. If it weren’t for GPS choosing back roads, I would have missed out on seeing this scarecrow.
Front Porch: Listen, lady, I don’t want to go that way!

I finished judging crops at the Franklin County Fair one Friday morning this summer and looked at my watch. It was 11:25 a.m.

“Where are you headed now?” asked my good friend Gary Kerr, who is a volunteer 4-H crops assistant.

“I’m going to Lawrence County to judge photography,” I replied.

“Where is that?” he asked. I knew right then I was in trouble. I needed to be on the west side of Bedford, Ind., by 2 p.m., and Gary didn’t even know where it was!

Never fear — my wife, Carla, had programmed the route into the GPS on my pickup, and it said I could make it in 2 hours, 23 minutes. That gave me 12 minutes to spare, with the clock ticking.

Everything was fine for the first 15 minutes. Then the directions said to get on the interstate and go to Greensburg. If you still have a paper road map or atlas, pull it out. Or as the GPS lady would say, “Pull it out NOW!” If you don’t have one, get one.

Greensburg is about 20 miles north of Brookville and even farther north of Bedford. Why would I want to go north instead of south? I pulled over and checked my atlas. I saw what the “lady” who lives inside the truck dash was doing — keeping me on the interstate — but she also was adding more than a dozen miles. Nonsense, I would take another state road.

Only when I pulled back out, there were two state roads to choose from, and I took Indiana 1 when I should have taken Indiana 46. So, I went farther south than necessary. The “lady” got so mad, she started telling me to turn when there weren’t even roads to turn on. I finally figured out some of them were just drives into subdivisions. She was grasping at straws.

I was too when I realized I had used up over an hour and was still in Dearborn County, snapping a picture of a scarecrow because it looked unique. I checked the map again and saw U.S. 50, which would go all the way to Bedford, was only about a dozen miles away. Eureka!

My next mistake was thinking GPS could get me to it faster than I could by myself. I swear I crossed the same state highway twice and wound up on the narrowest county road in Ripley County. Yes, by then, I was finally out of Dearborn County.

Isn’t it cool how navigation systems in newer vehicles not only talk to you, but can show you the speed limit for the road? I wasn’t watching it too closely, trying to make up time in my cross-country trek. In fact, if you have Google maps running on your display and your vehicle also shows the speed limit on the dash near the speedometer, they don’t always match! Try explaining that to a friendly trooper as an excuse.

Fortunately, I didn’t see any troopers. I was 15 minutes late, but I made it. Would I have been on time without GPS? Maybe, maybe not.

I still wonder how in the world a voice can talk to you in real time, when it’s not a recording. Carla says don’t worry about it, Tom — it’s just a computer. Maybe so, but it can be an irritating one, when the “lady” says, “Turn, turn right NOW!”

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