I recently drove to Shaker Heights, a trip I make about once a month. While I was growing up on the West Side, my only trips east involved University Circle and … well, University Circle. For this recent trip — and, indeed, all my trips outside of my comfort zone — I use Waze, the phone app that has become my co-pilot.
As a reporter for The Plain Dealer, I had quite a few occasions to brave the great divide of the Cuyahoga River and meet the wonderful and interesting people of the “other side” of town. I became a little more comfortable with those trips, but was always uncertain about my routes, I just didn’t know the streets and neighborhoods like I do on the West Side. In those days, I didn’t have the luxury of a GPS. I was frequently lost, pulled over at the side of the road, peering at my road map.
Did you ever wonder what we would do without our GPS-buddy? I’m pretty sure that my children, who have had access to GPS their entire driving lives, couldn’t make it to the corner grocery store without it. But I can’t shame them too much: I once got a ticket because I apparently suspended common sense (and all my other senses) when relying on my co-pilot. I was meeting some friends for lunch at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. Despite being on an unfamiliar road, I knew I was almost there because my GPS said it was .2 miles away.
Suddenly, the little automated voice ordered: “TURN LEFT NOW.” Yes, I write that in all caps because I did feel that I was being yelled at. I turned and, too late, saw the sign “No Left Turns.”
Well, no biggie, I thought. I’m turning into a large parking lot, not a street. Well, Merry Christmas to me! A Lyndhurst police car was hidden by lush arborvitae. As I proceeded into the parking lot, the red lights and rude, brief blare of the siren came alive.
“I’m sorry, officer,” I stuttered, after being pulled over. “My GPS told me to turn so I did.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said as he proceeded to write the ticket.
Fuming, I joined my friends and related my sad tale. I pulled out the ticket. Sure enough, the officer had written: “She said the GPS told her to turn.”
On my most recent trip to Shaker Heights, the GPS told me to exit Interstate 90 as soon as I pulled on. I literally said out loud: “You are nuts! I am not exiting!”
One exit later, it again ordered me to exit.
“Stop that!” I yelled. “That is not the route I want to take.”
Oh, I really should have listened. Construction had snarled traffic from Lakewood to well past downtown. It took me twice as long to make the trip.
Talking to a friend later, I moaned about the long trip. “I wish the GPS had said, ‘There is heavy traffic ahead. You might want to exit.’” I said.
She looked at me and smiled indulgently.
“Yes,” she said softly, backing slowly away from me. “That would be nice.”
My resolution is to now pay attention to my GPS. Even though it once made me get a ticket, it probably is way smarter than I will ever be.
Especially when it comes to driving on the East Side.
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.