Lost in GPS space

Sue says that I have no sense of direction. That I get lost going from the bedroom to the bathroom. Sure, you do that one time in the middle of a very dark night, and suddenly it's something she tells everyone.

But she is right about me being directionally challenged. It's not that I don't know my left from my right; it's a memory thing. No matter where I park at the grocery store, when I come out, all the parking aisles look exactly the same and all the cars look alike. So I wander around like a zombie with a shopping cart in the middle of a giant parking lot, clicking my key fob to see if I can find any lights flashing. Other shoppers avoid me because it's obvious I want to eat their brains, not find my car.

Naturally, I thought having a GPS in the car would change my life. And it has. But not enough.

Sue says that instead of saying, "Turn left in 300 yards," my GPS should just say, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" It knows how to get me to where I'm going -- say, a shopping mall in a big city I've never been to before -- but it doesn't know how to get me to the store that I want to visit in the mall, or what entrance is closest to the store I want.



Last week it got me to the mall entrance and it said, "Bear right." So I did. At each intersection in the parking lot, it said, "Bear right." Finally, after a two-mile circle, I was back at the original entrance.

The shop I was looking for was somewhere inside the giant mall, but exactly where was still a mystery. Wherever I parked, I would have a 1 in 4 chance of being as far as I could possibly be from my destination. And there would only be a 1 in 50 chance I would remember where I parked.

Stuck in this modern fairy tale, I start wondering if I should leave a trail of Starbucks coffee drops on my way in so I will be able to find my way back out.

Once inside the mall, I try the GPS on my phone again. Wow! The store location and my location instantly pop up. All I have to do is walk to the left, and I'll be there in no time. No, wait -- I've walked a quarter of a mile and the store is getting further away. How is that possible? Is it on wheels? I go back the way I came until I am guided straight into a giant wall with a sign that says, "Coming Soon: Another Clothes Store for Teens That Will Make You Feel Old."

Am I on the wrong level? No, all that's upstairs is a giant food court. All this walking has made me hungry, but I have plenty of food at home -- if I can ever find my way back out of this shopping labyrinth. The stores, like cars, all look similar. Did I pass the store that sells expensive gadgets I can live without before? Did I pass the store that sells stuff that is only seen on TV before? Did I pass the store that just sells smelly lotions before? All of them are empty. How do they pay the rent?

I feel as if I'm on the urban version of "Survivor," lost in a shopping mall jungle. If my team voted me off the mall, I'm not sure I could find my way out.

No, wait. I think I see something ... Yes! That's the store I came all this way to visit, and it's within walking distance! Hallelujah!

It's closed. Apparently it has moved to the newer, bigger, better mall two miles away.

I hope the GPS can get me home. If not to my home, at least to somebody's home.

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