GPS is Stupid

Picture this.

You’re tootling along the road toward the little town of Kilrush in your rented Nissan tinycar. It’s a glorious Irish afternoon; the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’ve got the Allman Brothers Band turned up loud on the stereo. (Probably Jessica, but Southbound or Ramblin’ Man is fine too.)

You’ve been ignoring your GPS all afternoon, driving along the coast road instead of the main roads it wants you to take toward your destination. What does it know, anyway; a GPS computer wouldn’t know what scenery is. So all afternoon, it’s been “In point five miles, turn left.” “No.” “Recalculating. In two miles, turn left.” “Dumb thing.” “Recalculating. In one point five miles, turn left.” Vroom. “Recalculating. In three point one miles…”

You come to a Y-junction. One fork is a perfectly normal-looking road, signposted “Kilrush: 5km”. The other fork is an unsealed farm track, littered with potholes and puddles and mud two feet deep, and not signposted to Kilrush. So you take the sensible-looking road.

“Recalculating. In one point two miles…”

“Wait, what? I was supposed to take the dirt track? What the hell?”

Now, the roads in Ireland are a bit hairy. The average “main road” is a two-lane road, infested by trucks, tractors and tourbuses, and instead of a hard shoulder there’s a three-foot high rock wall (or a fifty-foot drop into the Atlantic). So the standards for a “driveable road” may be a bit lower over here.

But a farm track? Pass me the roadmap; the Garmin GPS is about to take a trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

“In point two miles turn left… inpointonemilesturnleft… makeau-turnwheresafe makeau-turnimmediatelySPLASH“.

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