Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Nuvi

When we finally did make it to Chicago we turned on The Nuvi. My aunt sent this to us to aid our journey. We thought we'd never use it. We've done the cross-country thing before and made it every time. Sometimes even without a map, let alone a GPS navigator.

But she insisted that it would be helpful and so we plugged The Nuvi in and turned her on. I say "her" because The Nuvi speaks with a soothing and pleasant (but computerized) feminine voice.

She was amazing. It took only a moment to wake her from her slumber and she quickly figured out where we were and asked us where we wanted to go. We told her we wanted to go to Trader Joe's. She not only knew about Trader Joe's, but she knew how to get us there.

"Drive 4.5 miles to Trader Joe's, on left." Her voice was confident and assuring on the dark road. We could smell the whole grain breads, fresh pastas, and roasted red pepper hummus ...

"Drive 1.2 miles to Trader Joe's on left." The countdown was going smoothly. We could taste the oatmeal raisin cookies and smoked Gouda cheese ...

"Turn left in point two miles to Trader Joe's." Less than a minute to go and I was beginning to like this woman. I wondered if she had ever been there and if she had ever sampled the fresh salsas, chips and other tasty snacks. Meanwhile, the chocolate covered Macadamia nuts were calling my name and I could feel the texture of the raw cashews and sunflower seeds sliding around in their cleverly labelled cellophane bags. "Salsa del Cabo." "Genova Pesto." Sun dried tomatos! All the necessities for a successful road trip...

"Turn left in 400 feet to Trader Joe's." We were on a fairly busy road with lots of retail going on. Dunkin Donuts, Panda Express, Arby's, and McWendyKingBurgerDonalds. A Thai restaurant, Chinese buffet, and Pizza Hut. Clothes, shoes, a bank and a payday advance (to enhance our purchasing power). But where were my organic blue corn unsalted tortilla chips? Where was my Trader Joe's?

"Recalculating." That was all she said. The abruptness and ensuing silence made me think she might've been a little put out. But The Nuvi was obviously contemplating our predicament and we drove slowly as we awaited her guidance. It took just a moment and The Nuvi spoke again.

"Make a U-Turn in 400 feet." It was a brilliant solution. We could see the break in the median. An open invitation for the U-Turn and after successfully negotiating the evening traffic we pointed ourselves back in the right direction.

"Turn right to Trader Joe's in point 3 miles." We still couldn't see it, but we turned into a parking lot.

"Recalculating!" We'd somehow missed it again and this time there was no mistaking the irritation in her voice.

"Drive to the highlighted route." We both looked at her and she had enough lines and arrows on her little map to direct Forest Gump the right way. But where was the highlighted route? How do we get there? Did we turn too soon, or too late? Which way did she want us to go?!?

"RECALC-LATING!" She just dropped a vowel - it just kinda got swallowed up!

We'd obviously messed up again and now she was really ticked. We drove to the boulevard and were waiting patiently at the stop sign for a break in the steady stream of cars when she spoke up again.

"Turn left on high-ighted route." (This time she dropped the "L" - completely.)

Great, except for the "No Left Turn" sign and the median barrier in front of us...

"RE-CAL-CU-LAT-NG!" I could hear her gritting her teeth and there was a slight hiss as she enunciated every syllable ... She still dropped the "i," but by now we were beginning to enjoy irritating her.

We did eventually find the Trader Joe's and it was pretty much right where The Nuvi said it would be. It was just turned sideways, facing north on a north-south boulevard and tucked in behind a frozen yogurt "shoppe." What are "shoppes" of any kind doing in Illinois?

Did I ever mention how much I hate driving around in Chicago?

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