Sunday, May 15, 2011
I made a new friend on my vacation and while she’s not very good at her job, she did teach me an important lesson.
Her name is Gigi and she's not an actual person—that’s the name my uncle and his wife gave to their car’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
I haven’t owned a car in years, I rarely drive, and I’ve never used GPS. I supposed it’s good idea, but it feels a little creepy to have some device telling you to turn here and turn there. I went through this once with the nuns in Catholic school and I don't feel like repeating the experience.
I’ve got a cell phone that will mouth off without warning, asking me to please repeat my command, even though I haven’t made a command. This keeps happening, usually at the worst possible moments, and I can't turn the damn thing off. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve been known to pick up the phone and shout “drop dead!” in public places. Maybe I should calm down a little.
But I got to like Gigi. She had some severe directional issues, which admittedly is rather serious given the fact that the sole reason for her existence is to give people directions.
Whenever we came close to an intersection, Gigi would tell us to make a turn, even though she was dead wrong. I don’t what her problem was, but in the immortal words of my late father, Gigi couldn’t find her ass with her two hands--assuming she had an ass and two hands to find it with.
My uncle rightly ignored her and proceeded to go his own way. We made a game of mocking Gigi and telling her to clam up, but I finally noticed something about Gigi’s reactions.
Every time we blew off Gigi’s advice, she would pause, say “recalculating” in her fembot voice and offer a fresh set of directions at the next available turnoff.
We ignored those new directions, too, but that didn’t slow Gigi down at all, and she’d promptly come up with another batch of directions.
I liked how Gigi kept her cool. She didn’t shriek when we ignored her, she didn’t whine, or wail “why me?” and fall to the ground sobbing.
She just quietly regrouped, came up with a new plan, and kept doing her job. She wasn’t at all distracted or discouraged. At one point she did go into silent mode, but I didn't take it personally.
I waste a lot of time thinking about things in the past or worrying about events in the future—just about anything other than what I should be focusing on.
While I was on vacation, I caught myself dwelling on some incidents from years ago and I remember thinking that I should come up with some kind of trigger word that would return me to the present. Well, I think I’ve found my word: Recalculating.
It certainly worked for Gigi, so I’ve tried adopting her method for my EPS, or Emotional Positioning System. Whenever I get distracted—or more accurately, whenever I distract myself--I try saying the word “recalculating.”
This reminds that I’m wasting precious time and gets me back to the problems at hand. If I get angry about those hideous nuns, babbling cell phones, or various rotten people in my life, it's time to recalculate.
Thanks, Gigi. I owe you one.