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When I got my car a good year ago I ordered, nay demanded, in-built satellite navigation. It was a necessity for all those visits to customers, I claimed to the company car people, cleverly disguising the fact that all I really wanted to do was show the funky gadget off to my friends. Twelve months later and those colourful digitised maps have been a blessing in disguise. It sometimes goes a bit wrong, granted, but 99% of the time it’s spot on.
However, the remaining 1% reared its ugly head again last Friday. I had a client in Cambridge to visit, and a quick glance on theaa.com the night before showed a one and a half hour drive. No problem.
The following morning, I clambered sleepily into my car and plugged the destination into the console. Town? C. A. M. B. R. I. D. G. E. Street? H. U. N. T. I. N. G. D. O. N. R. O. A. D. It was here, blearily, that my morning’s travel arrangements went a tad off the rails. Certainly, said my happy little navigation screen, which of the 9 Huntingdon roads would you like?
7.30 am is not a good time for unexpected decisions. “Well, I don’t know,” I muttered to the inanimate screen. Shrugging, I chose the first road and drove off.
One and a half uneventful hours later I turned into a sleepy cul-de-sac in the middle of large, wheat-laden fields. As I watched old ladies eyeing my car with suspicion, and noted a lack of ugly, grey office blocks, I felt fairly certain that I was in the wrong spot. As I glanced at my navigation screen again, I cast my eye down the list of Huntingdon Roads and reached the horrifying conclusion that if I chose each one in turn, it would take up to three hours to find the godforsaken place. And that is why, for the next hour, I was on the phone to a colleague who had found his way to the offices with simple, old-fashioned papery maps. I turned up 2 hours late. It was a humiliation for technology.
Luckily, I finished the meeting in record time, and left for home at 4 o’clock. Tell-tale water droplets greeted my arrival at the car park, and by the time I’d loaded my sodden laptop computer into the boot I was wet through. Radio reports of flash floods greeted me minutes later, and by 5 o’clock I was sat in a 25 miles traffic jam on the M25, rueing the day I organised this particular diary entry. I limped home at 7.30 pm, two hours later than intended and only half an hour before Michelle and I were due to be entertaining my mum and dad to their thirty-somethingth wedding anniversary at a local Indian restaurant.
So, the moral? Don’t trust in technology too much. And certainly never plan a remote business appointment on a Friday.