Rita Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Garminetta gives directions to Michigan; can it answer life’s persistent questions?

On a recent road trip, the three of us sat in the front of the van: Rupert, me and Garminetta.

The new “Garmin” GPS device was on loan from my father, a real gadget guy. He was anxious for us to figure out how to use it and then teach him and my mom.

I named her Garminetta because she speaks in a female voice.

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Using the little box was simple enough. I just located Kalamazoo, Mich. on the map on Garminetta’s screen and placed the arrow over that city, then touched “go.”

From that moment on, Garminetta was determined to get us to the home of our friends there. She had selected the most straightforward route, straight up Interstate 57, all the way up Illinois.

At first, I just read off the directions that were printed on the screen. Rupert thought I was so smart. I had become the navigator he always dreamed I could be.

Then he realized I was just following Garminetta’s directions. So I turned her volume up and let her tell him.

She told us what lane to get in, and when to keep right or keep left.

She was obsessive.

If we decided to stop at a rest area, she immediately started chirping “recalculating” and then “turn right” (or left…whichever direction would get us back on the route she had selected.)

I finally learned to lower her volume when we decided to take a turn we knew she would not approve.

She was annoyingly helpful.

She found every Walgreen’s from Tennessee to Michigan after I’d made an innocent query regarding a proposed toothpaste purchase.

Garminetta located a hotel in Kankakee, Ill., in time for us to check in and watch the Alabama-LSU game.

She found three malls and several Cracker Barrels.

Only once did she lose her satellite connection and commence a wild goose chase that had two hungry travelers lost in a corn field, searching for a Quiznos.

We found Crick and Colby’s house, his new winery business, and even the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

So successful was our journey with Garminetta that I have decided never to venture more than 20 miles without her.

I am wondering now if I could get her to direct me to answers in other areas of my life:

Where’s my Harry Connick Jr. CD?

How does that spelling rule go…”i before e, except…?”

What’s the channel number for Turner Classic movies on my drek-tv?

Do these pants make me look fat?