World Navigator Adrift in Central NJ
Suddenly, Siri quits talking to me. I look at my iPhone: temperature alert. It is in danger of frying and has shut down. The Mallard is a north country car: no air conditioning. I toss the phone into the shade under the dash and pull over.
I have no idea where I am; no idea where I am going and no idea how to get back. At home an hour earlier, I Googled “NJ hiking”, tapped the Lat/Long of a likely trail into my phone and took off, mindlessly following Siri’s directions. Even if I had a paper map, I wouldn’t know where to go.
The phone cools and reboots. I stretch out my arm squinting; my reading glasses, the most powerful Walgreens sells, can’t resolve the text; it is too small and too faint in the bright sunlight. I hustle out of the car and crash thru the brush bordering the highway until I find a leafy tree casting a shadow.
Google Maps doesn’t remember where we are headed. I have to hunt for it. I bring up Chrome; it crashes. I bring it up again; it hangs. I click up Safari, grudgingly thankful that Apple makes it impossible to uninstall—I tried.
Back in action, Siri, reassuring and unflappable, tells me what to do. I exhale with relief, put the Mallard into gear and lumber back onto the highway.
When I sailed, I navigated by the sun, moon, and stars. All other boats used GPS. A couple times a year, a boat’s GPS would fail and the boat would wander lost at sea, plaintive cries echoing over the marine radio-net; the skipper not knowing how to use his sextant. In my righteousness, I would snicker at those who relied on technology to find their way.
I am, I guess, of that tribe now.
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