We are driving on an isolated, twisty country road in the pitch dark on a foggy night, mist shrouding the windows of our Honda Fit, and the GPS has just told me I’m entering an unverified area.
“Please use caution while driving in these areas,” Gabby tells me. We call our GPS Gabby. Weird huh? Personifying a robot, but you spend enough time confined in your little driving world listening to the thing's almost human voice and strange things happen to your mind. “Unverified area.”
“No kidding Gabby,“ I shout out at her. She has just taken us on a twenty mile jaunt around Lake Warren in south western New Hampshire in search of our final appointment of the day, a retired couple who have down-sized to a lake side cottage and need more efficient closets. We can’t see the house numbers in the foggy darkness and now the rutted dirt road has turned to muddy slush and the little Honda is sliding all over the place. When we reach the main highway again we realize we have gone too far and need to turn back through the mud once again. We also realize that we had driven by this end of the road twenty miles ago. Stupid Gabby had us drive all the way around the lake to come in at the other end of the two mile long road.
The day’s appointments had started in Enfield, NH, a two hour drive from our Wolfeboro office. It was a home under construction, a very large log cabin set on a beautiful 137 acre lot surrounded by woods, fields, and spectacular views. This was a second visit with this client. Denise had asked me to come along because of concerns about installing closet systems on log walls. What I love about my job is the interesting people we get to meet. This man was a retired veterinarian whose house plans included a laboratory to continue his research concerning heart worms in dogs. It was a very pleasant visit with a tour of the home in progress and an interesting discussion about his work.
Next stop Walpole, NH, about an hour’s drive south of Enfield down in the Keene area. So why the heck does Gabby have us driving north to go south. But there we were flying north on I-89 into Vermont to connect with I-91 south. Denise had the road map out to show me—remember those things, large colorful tangles of lines, impossible to fold back to their original size?
“See, “ she said, “It makes perfect sense.”
At the time I was skeptical of such a wacky premise, but as the day wore on, I would discover that down can be up and that there would come a point of total disorientation were I would find myself driving south to go north in order to get home. But before that could happen we had to find our third appointment of the day, the lakeside retirees. I was reluctant to turn around and drive back through the mud. I know from experience that a half mile stretch of muddy NH dirt road can be an all or nothing situation, a situation I did not want to be in on a foggy dark night in the freezing rain. Well, sometimes you need to take a risk to complete a mission. We are professional after all.
One time Gabby said to me, “Turn right at the next driveway and continue off road.” I’m not kidding. Now, ten hours into a working Saturday I’m seriously considering roboticide, all due respect to Mr. Asimov. There’s an old New England saying, “You can’t get there from here,” and I guess the modern GPS is further proof of the enduring truth found in Yankee wisdom.