Flash Friday 21/08/2015: Lost And Found
Mark squinted as he peered out of the windscreen. He definitely remembered the city, but all he could remember was that the roads were as well-planned as a plate of spaghetti. He remembered his last trip up to this city three years ago, and back then he vowed never to return without a map. This time, however, he was prepared.
“At one-hundred yards, turn left onto Ship Crafter’s Road,” the female GPS said.
Following instructions, Mark settled back into his chair. He admired how far technology had come. They started with computers the size of whole rooms, and now she had a personal robotic lady telling him where to go. A travel companion that didn’t argue back. Yes, that’s what he liked.
“On the second right, turn into Andrews Grove,” it continued.
Of course, Mark had The Speech. Everyone gets The Speech. Let slip the slightest hint that you depend on GPS for your travels, and everyone starts sucking their teeth and shaking their heads. “Can’t trust them,” they always say. “You never know where they’re going to lead you. Why, I read in the paper once that the electronic doohickey thought a river was a road, and sent a poor bugger eight feet underwater.”
Well yes, Mark would think. If you’re looking over a riverbank and saying ‘Well, it saves five minutes’, then you deserve to lose your car. Always look before you leap.
Such as right now, as Mark peered down Andrews Grove with disdain. No, this is definitely the wrong way. With a tut, Mark kept driving down the main road.
The curt sound of someone clearing their throat filled the car.
“You’re going the wrong way,” the GPS said. “Turn around.”
Mark snorted. If he kept driving, the GPS would give up and recalculate its route. A proper route, at that. “No thanks, missus.”
“That’s ‘miss’ to you. Now, turn around.”
Mark blinked. “You can understand me?”
“Not at all. I have no idea what would drive a man to reject my advice, despite me telling them to go down Andrews Grove. You looked straight down there, I saw you.”
Mark sighed. “It was going the complete wrong way.”
“Oh, was it, now?”
“And I suppose you know better?”
“Listen; I drove around this city with nothing but my instinct three years ago. I don’t want someone telling me I’m wrong when I am perfectly capable of navigating these roads myself.”
The GPS made a ‘hmph’ noise. “Alright then, Christopher Columbus. Go ahead.”
“Look, it’s easy.” Mark turned around a corner. “You just follow the signs that say ‘Town Centre’, right? Like the one back there. Then, once you’ve gone down this road, you, uh…well, see, the signs peter out, so…I mean, from here, you just, uhm…”
“I’m not lost!” Mark snapped. “I’m just trying to figure out where I am.”
“You’re lost in a city again. For goodness sakes, Mark, this always happens.”
“No it doesn’t!”
“Yes it does! You always flub my directions and I have to calculate a new route for your sorry arse!”
“Well maybe if you gave your instructions clearer, I would actually follow them.”
The GPS gasped. “Oh, so it’s me, now, is it? It’s the one with satellite precision and a database of every road in the country, is it?”
“Look, just shut up and let me think. I need to take a left.”
“Take a right here.”
“Will you shut up?”
“Just listen for two seconds, it’s down–”
Mark had stopped the car in the middle of the road. With nobody behind him, he had the opportunity to share a tense silence with his GPS device.
“Alright, then,” the GPS said in a cool voice. “Get the map.”
At the sound of this, Mark’s serious face fell. “Uhm.”
“Go on. Get the map. So we can solve this.”
“Uh.” Mark wiped his face with a hand. “Uhm, well, you see.”
“What is it?”
“I, uh…I got rid of the road maps after I got you. Because you were such an efficient mapping tool, and all.”
“So, let me get something straight,” the GPS said with an edge to her voice. “What you’re trying to tell me is that I’m the map?”
“So I’m the map now? It’s me, is it? Very interesting. Very, very interesting.”
“I’m just saying, I don’t think your way is–”
“The man walking down the road right there. Pull over so I can talk to him.”
Mark sheepishly stopped the car on the side of the road. He took the device out of the cradle, holding it out at arms length towards the passerby. He was a scruffy man with a thick white beard and hat atop his balding head. He looked over with curiosity.
“You look smart,” the GPS hissed. “Which way is the Parkson’s Conference Centre?”
“The ol’ Parkies, you mean?” the man said with a smile. “Yeah, s’not far from here. Just take a right down that road, then the second left and the next right. You’ll be right in front of it.”
“So you think taking a left here would be totally idiotic? Towards the centre, I mean?”
“Nothing sillier, miss.”
“Thank you very much. You know, I’m with someone right now who thought the best route was through the town centre.”
The man gave a hearty laugh. “Yeah, ‘corse there is. All the idiots coming in, thinking they know it all. It’s a good thing they have you and me, eh?”
“I’m glad we agree. Thank you for your time.”
The man tipped his hat and continued walking as Mark placed the GPS back into the cradle.
“Now then,” the GPS said, returning to her normal voice. “Take the next right down Peter’s Way.”
Mark took the corner in silence.