Personally, I think my geographical skills are excellent. Sadly, I’m the only one that would define them like that.

You see, I usually get to the place I want to be, eventually, but not always by the route I had planned. Thus, about a quarter of the places I’ve visited in my driving life were seen unintentionally, stumbled upon when I really wanted to be somewhere else. There’s a myriad of tiny boring village centers and tree-lined streets that I’ve driven through, that really shouldn’t be more than a name on a signpost to me.

This doesn’t, however, mean that I want some electronic bitch telling me where to go.


Part of what makes me, in the words of one ex, ‘lost’ half the time, is a form of exploratory curiosity. A tiny voice in the back of my head saying ‘I wonder where this road goes’. That voice is, of course, deadly for any efficient navigating. But it’s still a fun voice.


It’s at its strongest when I’m by myself, visiting some foreign city. There’s nothing like simply walking a city’s streets for hours on end, to get a good feel for the place. So any number of cities have seen the bottom of my sneakers, wandering through street after crowded, cobbled street, stopping in front of display windows, tripping over the occasional bum, avoiding poo, standing on tiptoe to get the perfect view. When you have no goal other than a train station or hotel four hours in the future you can simply explore, like a kitten that’s been let into the backyard for the first time.


It gives me a sense of immense joy and freedom. So it’s hard to turn that voice off when I take a wrong exit somewhere. If there’s any chance I’ll get to my destination by going on, I won’t turn back. At some point, it’ll always be ‘Let’s see where this takes me’. Roads are magical that way. And I can’t tell you how disappointed I am when I come to a dead end.


I like to tell myself that this is the reason I hate GPS’s. Because their main purpose is to take away the possibility of getting lost, they also take some of the magic away, some of the fun in simply exploring. But really, that’s only a small part of it. When you have to be somewhere at a certain hour, there’s simply no time for magic.


No, I hate GPS mostly because of the voice. Here’s someone, not even someone you can hit or talk back to, who is telling you what to do. And if you don’t go where she wants you to, she’ll nag until you turn back or give up and turn her off. Luckily you can do that much.


This horrible GPS woman is in my car, berating me like a six year old. And I can’t *stand* her. She stirs up emotions that I haven’t felt since puberty. I don’t know how all those machos in their big BMW’s and Audi’s, who drive like they own the road, can put up with it. Surely she shrinks their manhood with the sheer force of her droning shriek.


But there I am, listening to her like a good little girl, suppressing the urge to throw her out of the window. She gets me to places that no number of google maps prints could get me. She calculates, recalculates and makes me arrive in time.


But I’d really rather be lost.