Sunday, June 7, 2009

21st Century Mapreading

Have you used a GPS (Global Positioning System?)? This is one gadget that totally amazes me. When I was on the road making medicare supplement sales, I found it to be indispensable! If you're not familiar with this product, it is like a little computer screen that mounts on the dashboard or windshield of your car--although now you can buy a hand held one or get the capability with your cell phone or blackberry. It has a touch screen that allows your to type in your destination, and then it proceeds to give you directions, both on screen and verbally, to get you there.

If you are like me, finding the print on roadmaps seems much smaller than it used to be, and not good at following or even remembering instructions, it can be a real life saver. I purchased mine on the internet through my son Jason's on line business, but I'm sure there are other sources.

It's not an infallible gadget, however. Mabel (as my husband fondly refers to my GPS) has once or twice led me astray. Once I was on my way to a potential customer's home in Limington, ME, and Mabel directed me to turn right on the River Road. It was late March and about 4:00pm when I made the turn. I had no idea the road name was true to fact. It started out as a tarred road, then became gravel. I probably should have paid more attention to the sign I passed which said "No winter maintenance." The gravel started to get a little mushy, then there were puddles. When I came to the small stream that was gushing across the trail (road, at this point no longer seemed an apt description), I foolishly forged forward. I had already traveled 3 miles and according to Mabel I only had 1 mile left. There were deep, muddy ruts, and then I rounded a curve to find a car stuck in the muck in the middle of the byway. With no space to get past on either side, my only option was to reverse direction. I did get turned around and made it back around the curve--did I mention it had now started to rain? I drove another 50 feet, then felt my wheels sink in and lost the ability to go forward or back. ( I didn't try very hard, because I knew that would only make the situation worse!)

Thank goodness for my cell phone; after dialing AAA and explaining my predicament to the lady on the phone, she asked, "Is the mud up to your hubcaps?"

"Just a second, I'll check," I answered. Upon opening the door , I discovered the mud was up to the bottom of my Chevy. "Yes, I'guess it is."

"Well, you know, if the truck driver feels he is in danger of damaging his vehicle or yours, he may refuse assistance. I will send someone to you, however."

Oh great. Rain was coming down, and daylight was dwindling, and I could be refused assistance. I couldn't even recall when I had last seen a house. Immediately I made a call to my son Jason. "If Triple A can't help you, call me back, and I'll come get you out."he assured me. That was some comfort at least. Jason has a huge mother of a truck, and I had no doubt that he could save me from spending the night in the cold, rain, and mud!

Within just a few minutes (although it felt like an hour) the Triple A Tow Truck appeared. Apparently the other stranded driver had called, and they had already been on their way to my location. Two burly men climbed out of the truck and approached my car. "Got a problem?" asked the closer of the two. Talk about understatement! They were both trying not to laugh as I nodded emphatically. In no time at all, they had used a winch to pull me out. "Now do you think you can make it back to the highway?" they asked.

"I don't know," I responded, doubtfully. Those ruts looked deeper and more water filled than before.

"Well, don't worry. We'll get the guy behind you out, and then we'll come back this way to make sure you got out safely."

"Thanks," I replied gratefully. I proceeded with caution, avoiding what looked like the deepest ruts and largest puddles.

When I finally reached the highway, the until then silent Mabel spoke up: "A better route is available."(now she tells me!) I did make it to my sales appointment and made the sale, but not without having learned a lesson: Follow Mabel's instructions, but never, never ignore a sign that says, "No winter maintenance."


Wendy said...

Mabel's lead me astray a time or two. I think she's a prankster.

Eva Gallant said...

That's the truth; once she told me to turn right, and the only thing on my right was a lake! lol