Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heads or Tails #35 (Direction)

Well. Late again -- two weeks in a row.

Anyway, in today's Heads or Tails, our virtual den mother, Barb, wants us to ruminate on the concept of "direction." (Or maybe she wants us to give us direction. Or to give me direction in particular. Such as write funnier posts. You may imagine a near-Gallic shrug here: I do what I can.)

I always know where I am and where I'm going: I'm right behind the 8-ball... and I'm going straight down the tubes.

Not everyone in my family was blessed with such an unerring sense of direction, however. Older Daughter, for example, was about 12 or so when we moved in to our present house. So when she decided to go for a walk in the neighborhood, we had no objection -- until she got lost going around the block.

We're still not certain how this happened. Not that she can explain it, of course.

Turn-by-turn in-car navigation systems are supposed to help directionally challenged people... but the devices don't always work as well as one might hope. Consider this recent case of a Wisconsin tourist driving down Cicero Avenue in Southwest Suburban Oak Lawn. According to the linked story, the "24-year-old driver was obeying his GPS system when he took a right turn onto the tracks and his car's undercarriage became lodged on the rail." His empty car was hit by a passing train before it could be moved.

Said Oak Lawn Division Chief Mike Kaufmann, "GPS will tell you something, but you still have to pay attention to what's going on."

I had a story here in January 2007 about a similar problem. A German driver, it seems, "suddenly veered to the left and ended up stuck on a railway track" simply because he was ordered to do so by his satellite navigation system.

According to that earlier story, "Several German motorists have crashed their cars in recent months, later telling police they were only obeying orders from their satnavs."

In recounting that tale, I resisted the temptation to make a politically incorrect remark about Germans just blindly following orders -- and, of course, now I'm so glad I did. I mean, it just happened to a guy from Wisconsin.

Whose name wasn't mentioned... and there are an awful lot of folks of German descent in Wisconsin.... but no, it doesn't mean he was German. Probably.

Hat tip to Second City Cop for the link to the WBBM Newsradio 780 story.


Barb said...

We have a GPS that we use on road trips sometimes. So far we haven't been stuck on any tracks. Then again.. we aren't of German descent.

Patti said...

I'm have some German heritage (OK, half) but I don't have a GPS.

And I never follow orders. Am I allowed to come back here to visit?