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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

None Direction

I don’t mind being lied to.

Sometimes lying is necessary. Often, it’s expedient. Occasionally, it’s downright fun. I understand this. Lying happens, and from time to time it’s going to happen to me.

I ask just one thing: if you’re going to lie to me, do it in such a way that I’ll never find out the truth.

It’s a small consideration. A courtesy, really. And yet, my car GPS refuses to play ball. The douche.

“I often get the feeling the GPS is stalling, like it’s furiously consulting Google Maps in the background or something.”

I’ve long suspected the GPS of lying to me — but most times, I don’t know any better. On unfamiliar turf, I’ll punch in an address, and the system winds me around whatever town I’m in, homing in on the target. It’s not always a straightforward ride. There are sometimes odd twists and cryptic directions and three left turns in a row. I often get the feeling the GPS is stalling, like it’s furiously consulting Google Maps in the background or something.

But I usually get where I’m going, and if it wasn’t by the fastest route — or the straightest, or the safest, or one not requiring a passport to hop across town — then I’m none the wiser.

Except when I am.

Last night, I had an appointment in a part of town I know well. Mostly because it’s where the local animal hospital is, and our beloved and departed four-pawed furball spent a lot of time there.

(Like, a lot. She could practically lead tours of the place. They were this close to giving her her own parking spot.)

Still, I didn’t know exactly where this place was, so I popped the address into the GPS. When the map came up, I grinned — it was on a little street right behind the hospital. I could get there in my sleep, once I saw the location. A quick right, over the bridge, come out past Fenway, slide left, straight down Route 9, another right, and it’s right there. Twenty minutes tops, even with a bit of traffic.

And then my non-frown turned upside down.

(Into a frown. I know, it doesn’t work so well this way. There aren’t useful words that rhyme with “grin” for this purpose. Deal.)

The GPS had calculated its route, and it wasn’t taking me “quick right” and all the rest. Instead, it said, “Hey — you should go two miles in this direction, and when you get into that thick mess of humanity downtown, I’ll tell you how to get there.

And it offered to park me at my destination in a mere thirty-two minutes. Or roughly half as much longer as it would take going the way I knew. Which was closer. And easier. And, I was firmly certain, faster.

(Ooh! “Then my grin took it on the chin.”

That’s right. Nailed it.)

Anyway.

I fiddled with the GPS buttons, sure that some setting had gone wonky. My wife drives my car sometimes, and is always closing my A/C vents and horking the mirror positions. Maybe she’d tried to get the nav system to take her to Shangri-La or the middle of Massacusetts Bay, and turned the wrong knob. So I carefully and specifically tuned the search to give me the fastest and most straightforward directions.

Righto, said the GPS. “Recalculating… *bing*

Go two miles this way, get lost downtown, and I’ll circle you in. Thirty-two minutes.

The lying bitch.

That’s when I started talking to the GPS. I figure, it’s always yapping at me, telling me to turn left or take the third exit or stop driving into public parks. Now it was my turn to talk a little smack. Thirty-two minutes? I got your thirty-two minutes right here!

So I went my way. Some little teeny part of me even held out hope that I was wrong. Technology should be smarter than me, right? Maybe the GPS did know what it was talking about. Maybe some road I thought I knew had been torn up and turned into a drivethrough liquor barn. Maybe there was an accident — like, a nuclear accident — snarling up traffic on my usual route, and this seeming detour into oblivious was actually a genius move. And who am I to question our robotic overlords, anyway? Maybe I should give the device the benefit of the doubt.

So I did. A bit. Right up until I made my quick right, deviating from the path proscribed. The GPS pleaded with me — “take the next left!” “For god’s sake, turn around!” “All is lost; woe be unto all!

Then I hit the bridge, the point of no return. I couldn’t simply turn back and follow directions; the GPS was forced to play catch-up and plan a route close to the one I’d intended all along. Which it did, with twenty-eight minutes remaining on its countdown for the original plan. And when it recalculated?

Nineteen minutes. *Bing*, indeed.

If the GPS had a face, I imagine it biting its lip and avoiding eye contact — or headlight contact, or whatever — with me, as it ‘fessed up to sending me on a wild goose chase downtown. In its own way, it was probably sorry. Shamed. Remorseful.

And also pretty shocked, because I called it every name I could think of. And I know words, people. Bad words. Real mouth-soapers. I’m not kidding.

Like I said, I wasn’t angry that it lied. I was incensed that I found out. Seriously, put in a little effort next time. Lie to me in Vermont. Send me three loops on a roundabout, to jiggle my navigation skills loose. Tell me there’s construction. Something.

But don’t lie to me on my own turf. Don’t tell me my own backyard is out front, when I can clearly see it through the window. In short, if you’re going to lie to me, then for shit’s sake make it good.

It’s a simple courtesy. The very least one can do. And yet, my GPS still doesn’t get it. Ass.

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