Sunday, September 19, 2010

.8 mph

This was quite the traffic jam. As I remember it, we travelled about .6 miles or so in fifty minutes. I had been in worse traffic jams before, but I hadn't taken photos of traffic jams before, so hence we have this particular post.

This particular highway parking-lot experience occurred a few months ago--or as I refer to it now, during our pre-GPS days--and we were on our our way up to visit some lovely friends whom we've known for years. At various points throughout the drive the husband of the couple whom we were visiting called us to find out where we were. He has an uncanny ability to guess where we are (literally within five miles or so) based on the number of hours we've been on the road. So while we were stuck in traffic he called us and this funny emotional dynamic shifted into gear. My friend's DNA is hard-wired to kick into full-throttle help/coach/assist/advise/teach/explain mode at the drop of a hat. The truth is he's very smart, knows a lot of stuff, and he's always eager to share what he knows. He's helpful by nature and a natural-born teacher, and that part of his personality remains with him inside or outside the classroom. In contrast, my DNA is apparently wired to resist virtually all coaching, sometimes at all costs, even if the cost entails sucking in car exhaust on the highway. My friend was looking at his computer and providing us with alternative routes to his house. Sweet soul that he is, he volunteered (wanted to) stay on the phone with us throughout our travels just to guarantee we made it out of the jam. In contrast, I wanted to find my way out of the jam by intuition alone--or perhaps by sense of smell, in which I'd follow fresh air no matter where it led us. My wife is a reasonable woman and a peacemaker, and so she subtly brokered a compromise. Our friend would give us directions, which we would write down. In the meanwhile, we would go ahead and conclude our call but he'd keep his cell with him to answer any questions we might have as they would arise. As for me, I could alter the route as I saw fit once we got off the highway.

Juli's instincts were dead-on. We did call him once or twice. And I did deviate from his suggested route a bit. And it all concluded like a beautiful dream: We arrived safely and were greeted by our hosts with some absolutely killer peach daiquiris.

I think I drank two.

And then after the drinks (and hugs and many laughs) I went to bed feeling very much at peace with the world.

It was a beautiful visit.


justcurious said...

Anonymous husband says these are funny and accurate words, and he remembers you being reluctant to accept aerial intelligence.

justcurious said...

And now my word is "motorrox" - the ailment we knew your car was going to come down with once you embarked on YOUR alternative route.

Jeff said...

Anonymous husband remembers being somewhat surprised, but mostly puzzled at your lack of interest in the omniscient assistance that Google maps can provide. "I would have been all over someone guiding me from above, as it were, but you seemed hell-bent on doing it yourself. Oh well, if you love traffic, it's your funeral."

Mike Bailey said...


It's definitely me, not you. When we first purchased our GPS system, I nearly threw it out the window, and I came "this close" to using some choice words about it in front of my children that I would have immediately regretted. "Piece of garbage" is a translation of what I was thinking. It gave several wrong diretions early on (again, the first time we ever used it) and much of the remainder of the drive was Juli trying to placate/console me for having just shelled out that much money for what I took to be the privilege of being given bad advice.

"I can get lost on my own without the 'assistance' of satellite triangulation," was what I said at the time. Or something to that effect.

Andy D. said...

There was also that time, early on in this uneasy man/machine relationship, when it showed a street cutting through but in reality it was a dead end, but he drove across the grass and down the embankment to get where he was going, just to prove to the machine that he, not it, was in charge...


Technoprairie said...

You want to try something fun? Get on Google maps and ask directions from any city on the mainland to some city in Hawaii. We did this and Google told us to "kayak xxx miles to Hawaii".