‘GPS signal lost’

More than once in this column, I’ve admitted that I’m a home-body, and don’t travel all that much. In fact, the last really long excursion I took was to Disney World in 2006, and while there had an incredibly painful kidney stone attack.

Of the five days we were there, four of them were spent nearly doubled over in pain. Yet it didn’t prevent me from totally enjoying the Rockin’ Roller Coaster (twice) and the Tower of Terror. My biggest fear was spending the three-hour flight from Orlando to Providence in barely bearable agony. But the Good Lord was looking over me and the flight was uneventful.

Once home I spent two nights in the hospital before they had to blast the blasted thing.

But as usual, I digress.

I rarely travel, so I rarely have use for the handy Global Positioning System, more commonly known as a GPS. This compact keeper of maps of every street in the world has replaced the good old road map, given free of charge as a courtesy from your local Gulf gas station attendant. You seasoned road veterans remember those, don’t you? You know, the map that once unfolded could never be refolded the same way again.

The GPS eliminates the folds, providing a real-time view of the route you’re on and literally tells you where to go. My smart phone GPS has a British woman’s voice. I call her Gwyneth. Sounds like a Brit name to me. Denise and Emilie simply shake their heads.

I recently used Gwyneth to direct me to a concert the three of us were going to at Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster, at a venue called Indian Ranch.

Webster is not that far away, but it is off the beaten path, so I called on Gwyneth for assistance. My British friend’s directions transformed a roughly one-hour trip into an hour-and-a-half. The Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” should have been playing in the background, because that’s the route Gwyneth mapped out for us. I do wonder if GPS manufacturers are in cahoots with fuel companies.

Anyway, we got to experience a great day of Blues music with the legendary BB King, and the sizzling Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and the soulful Shemekia Copeland.

Since we didn’t want to have to make the return trip over the meadows and through the woods in the dark, we stayed the night at a nearby hotel. Gwyneth got us there with no problem.

The next morning I set the GPS to get us back home. I put the phone in my pocket, and we gathered our luggage and cooler and entered the elevator for the trip down to the lobby.

After a short trip of only one of the four floors, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. There stood a young couple with two small children. There wasn’t room for them and they waved us on.

It was then when Gwyneth chimed in, “GPS signal lost.” The young couple were grinning from ear to ear, and my peeps were in full laughter mode. As the doors were closing, the young man said, “Just go down.”

At that we all burst into laughter, and we could hear the couple laughing even through the closed elevator doors — on the way down.

We were still laughing as we alit on the first floor. I went to the front desk to check out, and within seconds, the young couple got off the elevator and were behind me at the desk.

I turned to the young man and said, “I made it!” He began to laugh and said, “That’s a relief” — and he had a British accent! Gwyneth must have made him feel right at home.

Then I said, “You can never be too careful.” He replied, “This is too funny!”

We wished each other well and I left the hotel saying to Emilie, “See, I showed them that Americans can be funny.” Emilie’s reply was short and to the point: “Or stupid.”

Gwyneth’s antics weren’t quite over though. A few weeks later, I was going to another concert in Boston at the Garden. Since the routes in Beantown change daily, I enlisted Gwyneth’s expertise once again. This was Boston, after all, a former British stronghold.

She had no problem getting us into the city, but when we were less than a mile from our destination, she led me astray. I was at a traffic light where I knew I should go right. Gwyneth thought otherwise and said, “Bear left,” in that charming British accent. I couldn’t resist.

Forty-five minutes later, I was at the same intersection. She led me through tunnels and over bridges to get there. I said “Ta ta,” shut her off and headed to the Garden a minute away. 

Talk about a lost GPS signal.

Dave Jolivet can be reached at davejolivet@anchornews.org (with or without a GPS signal).

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