On leaving civilization

This Christmas my wife steered me, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. She gave me a navigation system for my car that gives you on-screen directions to get you where you want to go.

I wasn’t sure I needed one because we generally go to the same few places, but she thought it was a great toy to entertain a husband and his in-laws on Christmas day. And besides, it’s become a challenge for me to wear out the shirts and use up all the cologne she gives me.
At least, that’s why I think I got the Garmin Nuvi GPS. Or maybe it’s because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost some of my skill at finding my way around big cities after only a quick glance at a map.
Anyhow, I unwrapped it while at Jenny’s parents in northern Kentucky, and hooked it up for the car trip home. Soon, a female voice was barking out directions (the gadget, not Jenny). I thought it was neat, the way it gave me the same winding route we take to reach the Interstate.
Everything went fine until we were about ready to stop for our usual lunch, a sack of White Castle burgers in Nashville. Bossy Brenda (well, your navigator, human or otherwise, has to have a name) was determined we were going to take I-40 West out of town, which would have missed the White Castle. After lunch and a dozen or so annoying “recalculating” blurt-outs, she gave in, as we headed down U.S. 43 for our usual route to Florence, Ala., and then across to Corinth.
After about 30 minutes, she told me to turn right on an unfamiliar Tennessee state route.
“Why, don’t we give it a try?” I said. “Maybe we’ll learn a better route home that will save us some time.”
“OK,” said Jenny, maybe a little reluctantly.
Within a few minutes, “OK” was slipping into “maybe not OK” in Jenny’s thinking. We made several turns at Bossy Brenda’s direction onto even smaller roads.
I kept trying to reassure Jenny that Brenda knew what she was doing. I was less-than-sure myself, though, by the time we made a circle around a barely paved block and encountered a dead horse beside the road.
“We’ve left civilization,” Jenny announced, humming the “Deliverance” theme.
“If we had car trouble out here, we’d never get any help,” she added, threatening to throw Brenda out the window.
We drove for nearly an hour, following Brenda’s directions, passing shacks and junkyards and an occasional well-kept farm without seeing a service station. (It’s a good thing I had filled the gas tank before we headed into the boonies, I thought.)
Eventually, we arrived on the outskirts of Corinth. Somehow, we had managed to cross into Mississippi without ever having passed a “Welcome to Mississippi” sign.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful.
Well, almost uneventful. Brenda wanted me to divert through the New Albany Townhouses parking lot on the way to our neighborhood, and then announced we had arrived home three houses before we turned into our driveway.
We decided GPS technology is an amazing thing, but it works best when you also have a map and some common sense.
I have a feeling I’ll being getting more shirts and cologne next Christmas.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at publisher@newalbanygazette.com.