Here's the thing I learned (the hard way) about GPS:
• It works great when you have no other directions to go on
• When you have a sense of direction (or lack thereof) like mine, it's better than fumbling around in the car for your map, pulling over at every gas station, or trying to call for help on your cell phone
• It DOES NOT always give you the most direct route
I discovered this last point when, on Nov. 7, I drove 2 hours from my home in Northern California to a social event at Chronicle Books in San Francisco commemorating their move to a new location. The worry-wart in me decided to cover my basis so I printed directions from Map Quest and programmed Chronicle's address into the GPS in my car. The Map Quest directions actually looked fairly simple--3 lefts from Van Ness, and you were there. But for reasons that are unclear to me now, just as I pulled off Highway 101 onto Lombard, I decided that my GPS had never failed me before--and hey, why have one in the car when you don't use it?
I wonder if GPS devices have a mind of their own, and mine decided to mess around with me--just for the fun of it. It sent me on a convoluted path, criss-crossing the city in downtown S.F. during rush hour traffic. Now, you have to understand that I live in a small, rural town where "traffic" constitutes 3 cars ahead of you at the stop sign. I'm not used to this bumper to bumper stuff with people weaving in and out of lanes and honking at you if you didn't start revving your engine before the light turns green.
Finally, relief seemed to be in sight. I spotted the name of the parking lot I had picked out from Map Quest, supposedly just behind the Chronicle offices, and I was only 15 mins. late. I pulled in, parked and paid my parking fees. As I headed down the street in my black pencil skirt and high heel pumps (the instructions from the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI said to dress professionally, so I had to abandon my usual Mommy-sweats and tennis shoes), I realized that this wasn't the parking lot on my Map Quest directions. No, this parking lot was about seven blocks away from my intended destination! They have parking lot chains? Who'd have thought? Needless to say, by the time I walked there, stood around for an hour and a half mingling with my fellow writers and Chronicle editors, and walked back, my feet were ready for a Body Shop Peppermint foot soak.
On the plus side, I met some lovely writers and re-connected with my writing friend, Anthea Brown whom I met at the Big Sur Children's Writers' Workshop in December 2006. She's a wonderful, funny writer, and a terrific artist, so check out her website.