I recently bought a new car and I love it. In had been using both my car and Angela’s car for the past year and it seemed foolish to keep both of them. While I had the option to keep Angela’s newer car and sell mine, I opted to trade both of them for a brand new model. It’s a really nice car and drives wonderfully, and it’s beautiful to boot.
When I picked up the newly shined car at the dealer, the salesperson reviewed most of the special features for me; too many to remember I thought as he quickly recited a list of choices that were available for just about every function.
Even though I was interested in all the amazing technical aspects of the car’s management systems, I knew deep in my heart that the one feature that I was most interested in was the navigation system. You see, my old car didn’t even have one and Angela’s car had a rather primitive knob-controlled system that was cumbersome and frustrating. To my amazement, this car has an iPad type of feature which allows you to type the address on a keyboard, or just issue verbal instructions to an Alexa type of receiver. What a wonderful thing a navigation system is, I thought, as I drove home. Yes, my I phone has a navigation function, but this is all just there ready to use, right on the dashboard.
The wonders of our new technology always continue to remind me of how much has changed within my own lifetime. I suppose, those who lived in the times when other major technical developments were advances probably felt the same. The thing is that we seem to adapt to the new situation with little nostalgia for the things that are lost.
Even though I was never very good at reading maps, especially road maps that are supposed to get you from point A to point B, I can remember how exciting it was, back in the day, to plan a road trip with the use of a road map. I especially remember how much we looked forward to the visit to the local AAA office to speak with an agent about our trip. The agent would offer advice on the most desirable route to follow and offer other suggestions for things to see and do along the way.
After waiting a short time, I would go back to pick up our custom designed trip packet. It was really a wonderfully detailed guide with the route highlighted on the fold out map, and all kinds of interesting information to consider regarding accommodations and sightseeing.
Thinking back now to those times gives me reason to feel somewhat ambivalent. Yes, we have made great strides in our command of tasks that might have otherwise given us some difficulty, but that power has also deprived us of some personal interactions that made life a little more interesting.
Online communication or verbal communication with your Alexa are poor substitutes for human interaction, and can leave us feeling shortchanged at times.
But back to the map guided trip. Angela usually served as the navigator, offering directions for each turn or road stop, and at an early age, Matt was an amazing map reader as well; he could visualize the connection between the line on the page and the road ahead. I recently discovered a pile of road maps, relics from past trips, each of which has a story to tell. I realize now how much fun those family trips were and how much they served to create some priceless family memories.
I think back now to trips taken when I was a child to Bristol, R.I. and Brooklyn to visit relatives and I’m amazed at how we managed to get there on the old Boston Post Road.
But, I’m certainly not downplaying the luxury of getting in the car with no preparation and simply following the pleasant sounding navigator who knows exactly where to go and when to offer simple instructions. It just makes the trip to parts unknown so much easier and straightforward, but from time to time, I kind of miss the voice coming from the seat besides me, calling out instructions and watching to be sure I was on track.