Sunday, December 27, 2009

Help. I'm being held hostage by a Droid

I am addicted to, besides everything else, technology.  But I usually keep it in check and don't chase every new gadget.  Spacing new technology over time keeps me from spending every waking second in the learning curve.

But shortly before Christmas, my job upgraded my cellphone.  It had to be done since I was incapable of checking my calendar or email when I was out of the office...which I thought was actually a good thing.  And, therefore, last week, a new Motorola Droid appeared on my desk. 

A cute little thing with pretty colors on icons I didn't understand.  I figured out how to make a phone call and answer a phone call -- instead of flipping it open or pushing a button, you have to swipe your finger across the screen. 

But it also beeped everytime someone sent me an email.  Finally I learned to turn off the email notification sounds!  

Then I pushed a button that said "Maps."   Well I didn't actually push a real button. It is all touch screen stuff so I put my finger on something that resembled a button.  And a map of South Carolina appeared.  Pretty cool. 

There was a blue dot on the screen and I zoomed in on it...closer and closer...and the map got bigger and focused on Charleston...then on downtown...then on the street where I work...then on my building!  And the blue dot was in the Northwest corner of the building where my office was!  The blue dot was me!  How does this Droid know?!!  I was afraid to zoom in closer for fear I'd be looking at the bald spot on top of my head.

BAGMAN:  "Yeah, right!  Baldspot, my ass.  Your baldness hasn't been a 'spot' for years."

Okay, I got it.  GPS.   Every phone needs GPS.   Now I can check whenever I am in doubt to make sure I am actually where I think I am.

But last week, returning from Christmas shopping at the mall, I decided to risk trying the the navigation function.  Now I still remember how to drive home from the mall -- maybe the Droid will be more helpful when I get Alzheimers -- but I spoke to it.  Yes, in today's world, you can speak to your technology.  "Navigate to 1224 Wynnwood Court, Mount Pleasants, South Carolina!"  I said. 

And the phone spoke back...with a kind of whiny female voice..."Turn left onto Rivers Avenue."   So I did.  We got to the expressway and it told me to turn left onto the Interstate.  I was confused because I know that I usually turn right. 

Did the Droid know a shortcut?   Had I forgotten how to drive home?  

But I ignored it and turned right.  "Take the next exit at Remount Road," said the Droid.  It wasn't giving up. 

Althought the purpose of voice navigation is so you don't have to keep looking at your cellphone while driving -- a dangerous practice -- I glanced at it anyhow.  It was telling me that the estimated time to my destination was 3 hours and 20 minutes.   Some shortcut!!!  The way I go usually takes 27 minutes.  I drove by the exit and said "Stupid Droid!" 

"Take the next exit at Aviation Road," said the Droid unperturbed at my irritation.

"Like hell I will,"  I snapped at it.  As I drove past the Aviation Exit, I picked up the Droid, pushed the talk button and said, "Cancel Navigation."

The whiney voice responded, "Take the next exit at Montague Avenue."  

My God, I'm being kidnapped.  It's trying to take me the wrong way.  By now I'm swerving all over the road, braking to avoid hitting drivers who are swearing at me and giving me the finger, and trying to turn off the damn thing!  But even after hitting the off button, the voice lived on!  Finally after forcing two other cars onto the shoulder, I saw the Droid's destination for me:  "Mount Pleasant Church, Charlotte, North Carolina!"   At least it got the Mount Pleasant part right.   So much for voice activation!

On the Expressway, by now my driving while wrestling with Droid was scaring even me, so I put Droid on the passenger seat and covered him with Christmas presents.  But underneath I head the muffled whine everytime I passed an exit.  "Take the next exit at..."   In fact, once it even told me to "Make a U-turn."  

"On the Expressway at 70 miles per hour?!!!"  I yelled back at it.  "You're trying to get me killed!"

"Make a U-turn," it dictated again. 

But when I finally got off at the right least the one I thought was the right exit...I stopped at a convenience store and spent 20 minutes trying to type in the correct address on a virtual keyboard designed for mice, if mice had fingers and were able to type. 

We became friends again.  It told me what to do and I did it.  But then it got scary because as we neared my subdivision, instead of little maps on the screen it started showing photographs of the intersections.  How does Google do this?!!  

Once again I turn into a road menace as I drive through my subdivision holding the Droid up and watching as the screen shows me photos of what I am seeing in front of me.  It seems unbelieveable but if any of you have seen Google Maps in action -- it is true.  Some poor blokes have been paid to drive everywhere and take pictures of everything. 

Until finally, Droid says, "You have reached your destination."

I look at the screen and there is actually a picture of my house there.  The garage door is open and suddenly I am in the Twilight Zone.  Because on Droid's screen, my car is already in the garage! 

Terrified of breaking some time/space or virtual world/actual world continuum, I take a long dispairing sigh, make a U-turn and start heading back toward the Mount Pleasant Church, which is now 3 hours and 40 minutes away. 

I thought of calling for help but couldn't remember if this new upgraded phone really made phone calls or not. 


  1. Yeah, this is what my daughter wanted for Christmas. Our plan won't allow it until January 3rd or so. She will have to wait another week. Fortunately she will adapt to it's idiosyncrasies because she is just 18, but I know what you mean.

  2. Ha, not laughing at you, but with you and hubby who also got one. I have the 'android' which does most, but not the 'keypad for mice', so right you are...I told my son that when I get to a point that technology is just off my chart, then I probably am off its chart as well, so leave me alone...he agrees...

  3. Good morning! I'm here getting caught up on my post holiday blog reading. Is there coffee?

  4. very funny!! my phone justs lets me know when someone is calling me and I can make a call out. also a text now and then. I am way behind in the technology dept. Kudos to you!!

    Have a Happy New Year!!

  5. My cell phone doesn't even let me know when I get a call because for some reason I have turned the ring off and cannot figure out how to get it back on! Really enjoyed this post, you can make anything fun.

  6. Oh Gawd, another one bites the dust. I recently asked someone why people hold their phones up by their ears. Why dial a number when you can text, email, instant message, google wave, etc. Best get your Big Book of Technology Anonymous out and start in on the first step. I would diagnose you with abuse right now but soon you will be addicted and you know there's no going back.

  7. You are priceless. You can make anything funny. I never take a gift back to the store, but if I got one of those things it would go back. Of course I am way out of the "need to be found clique" so it doesn't matter.

  8. That is so funny. Your stories just make me laugh! I have a "regular" phone now, and we are getting new ones soon. I really just want a regular phone because I don't need all that other stuff. I wonder if they still make "regular" phones?

  9. That is hilarious. I feel as if someone has just written my story with technology.

  10. Super scary! I had a terrible time with a GPS in Sydney a couple of months ago took me half way around the world and a couple of times in the harbour tunnel get me where I was going!

  11. HAHAHA. I have a new Android technology phone too -- a Samsung. I like it, but I'm still on the learning curve. Haven't tried the GPS yet, but have taken a peek. I might try it soon, in the passenger seat, just to avoid your experience.

    Happy New Year!

  12. What fun! You will come to love your little Droid. I almost got one but went for the BlackBerry Storm 2 a week before the Droid came out. I love it. I like being able to have all my emails sent to me while on the road. The junk ones can be deleted before I get home.

    OK. Now Bagman can text Dorothea - once you figure out how to use the phone part.

  13. Gotta love technology!!! As usual that was a laugh until ya cry story.