I’m at least a part-Luddite when it comes to some forms of technology I have to admit. I actually do enjoy gadgetry but tend to lead myself into their realm rather than allow myself to be industry-lead into spending my money on such items. We all witness so much innovation and clever new technology in our lives these days that it’s sometimes difficult to determine what the actually useful stuff is rather than the items we’re told we need and are indispensable by the manufacturers. Such an item for me are GPS satellite car navigation systems as typified by the TomTom.
I need to state straight away that I agree these devices are fiendishly clever and absolutely invaluable for some. I should also add that for my running, I have been using a Garmin GPS system on my wrist for a few years now so I’m certainly no technophobe where such things are concerned. I just don’t personally feel the need for one in my car jabbering away. I find them slightly irritating whilst driving, a time when I like to either play music or enjoy the silence – yes it is possible! What’s more I hold a belief that some people are beginning to rely on them just that little bit too much.
A few little incidents I’ve noticed recently lead me to that belief. Very few people actually appear to take a map in their hand these days and prepare a simple journey, however small. I recently overheard one delivery driver excitedly refusing some extremely simple, uncomplicated and undemanding instructions to deliver a small package. The instructions covered just three roads and two right turns to a nearby village. The driver’s response? ‘No, no – don’t tell me, don’t tell me – I only use my TomTom’.
Just yesterday I was travelling as a passenger in a friend’s car when another car pulled up alongside at a red traffic light, like ours, the window wound down on what was a warm day. On what is an extremely busy arterial road at a congested junction he proceeded to yell across through his open window, ‘Where’s Kirkby-in-Ashfield mate?’ into our car. Nothing that startling perhaps but when you consider that his destination was over ten miles away and bore no relation to where he was, it kind of makes you wonder whether he had any regard for the journey he was undertaking or whether he was was just going to bellow at other motorists in stationary traffic to find his destination.
The most non-plussing one came this very afternoon though whilst I was training out around the country lanes here on a seven-mile run. I was pulled up by a couple in a Land Rover Discovery and as I stopped my watch I was asked, ‘d’ya know where’t caravan storage is mate? We were at the time on a little lane leading into Epperstone village. I asked if they might have such a thing as an address? ‘No’ was the flat reply. Well where the heck are you heading for and how do you expect me to help you? I thought to myself, perspiration running into my eyes as I tried to make sense of the couple who didn’t know where they were, where they were heading and apparently didn’t even appear to know where they had come from!
I did the only sensible thing to do in the circumstances and sent them on a wild goose chase. I’ll let you know if they’re still circling around the country lanes tomorrow.