where TomTom goes wrong

where TomTom goes wrong

Two things you need to know before I start this story.

One, when I did my New England trip early last month, I rented a car because I was trying to visit a ton of people. No kidding – I spent at least one night each in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts! It was fun to see everyone though. One reason I hate renting cars is the added stress of being in possession of something that costs more than I have, and something that at any time can get hit or broken into or dinged or whatever! To be honest, the people we usually visit when we’re up in New England don’t live in the nicest of neighborhoods (Paul’s parents included), and I know that the rental car sticks out with its newness and shiny paint. We’ve never had any problems but there’s always the first time… I always feel a great relief when I return the car to the lot!

Two, when we went to California last February, we were going to rent a GPS so we could more easily figure out how to get to all the places we wanted to go. We found that it was actually just as expensive to buy one, so we did and we’ve been using it on trips. (We prefer the whole getting-lost method of finding our way around Atlanta. ;-)) It’s really nice to have, but sometimes it can be sooo frustrating when it tells you to take roads that aren’t there. The biggest is when they have finished construction but the TomTom doesn’t know that, and so then I get horribly lost… Anyways!

So one of the evenings that I was up in New England, I joined my dear friend Becky at her house in Rhode Island to celebrate her birthday! I was staying with my in-laws, who live about half an hour away in Massachusetts. I was by myself of course (Paul was in Atlanta), so navigating around Providence was very unfamiliar territory. It also didn’t help when Becky would make comments such as, “I wouldn’t trust it in THIS neighborhood…” Not that I was scared for my safety, but rather for the safety of this car I was renting. :-)

We left at 10:30 at night, and the car was untouched – all the hubcaps and tires were there, the taillights were still there, and the windshield. Excellent, we’re doing better than Peru already! I got in the car, turned on TomTom and told it to take me back to Massachusetts.

TomTom then proceeded to take me around ALL these backroads through Providence. I saw numerous cops along the way, lights flashing… a few times they had somebody in cuffs while they looked through a car. Groups of people were hanging out on streetcorners. I locked my doors and tried to concentrate on driving. I was nervous being in unfamiliar territory, going through an area of what I later realized was East Providence, and I had no idea why TomTom was taking me this way! TomTom seemed to disagree with reality about the streets available for me to take, so I ended up missing a lot of turns and the GPS having to “recalculate route…”

Finally I made it to a highway, which TomTom insisted wasn’t there but I ignored him and followed the street signs and got on, heading to Massachusetts. Relief! I had been on the highway a short while when I realized that the dashboard was awfully dark, why was I having such a hard time seeing it? I messed with some buttons and realized… my lights weren’t on. Yes, I had just driven all that way through the streets of Providence without my lights on! My car (my baby, my Corolla) has lights that turn on automatically every time I drive the car. The dashboard detects when it’s dark outside and turns on the dashboard lights. I NEVER think about my lights. And, since this seemed to be a newish car, I assumed it was the same way. It never occurred to me to, you know, turn on my lights!

I want to know how I made it all that way without even noticing. I guess the streetlights were lit brightly enough that I could see perfectly without them.

I got back without a problem, and I called Paul and told him I missed him and said, once again, how much I prefer having him around when I’m driving around the not-so-great neighborhoods of New England. :-) Oh and random observation about Massachusetts drivers: the slowest drivers are in the middle lane, no kidding. You cannot ride in the middle lane unless you are not in a hurry. I hate going in the left lane, and I hate having to constantly be switching lanes, but that’s how Mass. rolls I guess. I miss Atlanta and my 16 lane highways. :-)

5 thoughts on “where TomTom goes wrong

  1. I was driving our Camry for a few months before I started driving the Volvo, and the Camry has automatic lights like your Corolla. I totally forget to turn on the headlights on the Volvo, too! Thankfully, it’s generally light out when I drive :)

  2. our Taurus has the “daytime running lights” so the lights are on all the time. But I’ve done the same thing with driving around int he dark and then suddenly realizing i can’t see the dashboard. :)

    I have no experience with GPS, we’ve thought about getting one for fun. We travel A LOT. glad you had fun in New England!!

  3. Jes: The GPS is nice to have. We just bought a cheap one; so I don’t know how it differs from the fancier ones. Sometimes it drives me nuts but overall it’s good. We only use it for traveling, because I don’t want to be the person who lives in Atlanta but doesn’t know how to get anywhere because I always use the GPS.

    I will say: it’s easiest to use when you have a navigator. When Paul and I are together, we get places fairly smoothly. One of my favorite features is that if you miss a turn it “recalculates” the route. That makes it easier when it just gives you an alternate way and you don’t necessarily have to turn around. I also like being able to find nearest post office, or see the restaurants in the area, etc. If you’re ever thinking of buying one and want to borrow ours for a trip to see if it’s worth it, I’ll be happy to lend it to you. (Assuming we’re not planning on using it.)

  4. ACK! My GPS screws with me sometimes, too. On several occasions, it has tried to get me to turn the wrong way down a one-way street. Once, it routed me through a shopping center’s parking lot and back onto the road at the exact point where I came in.

    I think it has a sensor where if I do what it says, it knows if I’m dumb or not.

    Also, Pittsburgh roads are hard to figure out. Many aren’t marked, and most have several names. And I was driving down one of the parkways the other day and saw that my old exit (#12) was now #5. WHAT THE HECK, PBURGH.

    I try to just use my GPS as a backup, and rely on myself or my handy book-map in extreme situations.

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