Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Driving Toronto Crazy

Last weekend I went to TO for a board meeting. (Operation Mobilization Canada—always a good experience.) I flew in to Toronto Pearson International, rented a car, and drove to my host’s house in Oakville. Therein lies a story. (Nansi indaba, as they say in Zimbabwe.) 

I got a Chevrolet Sonic, nice small car with 1400 kms on it. About 8:30 in the evening, I cued my host’s address in to our GPS and got ready to roll. The first check was the GPS’s struggle to locate a satellite through the concrete of the airport garage, but I knew to head south on 427 so I headed south. 

Eventually the GPS succeeded and instructions began to appear on the screen. Second check. I was busy trying to remain calm in Toronto traffic with my nerves attuned to driving on the prairies. In Manitoba, the sudden appearance of five cars constitutes a traffic jam. There were more than five cars around me, making it hard to focus on the GPS screen. 

Then I realized what part of my trouble was. Although I like the GPS voice, especially if I can get a nice soothing English accent, my family finds it annoying, no matter what the accent. (I need the one Lauren had—a South African mammy berating you for not doing what she clearly just told you to do.) Since Lois does not like the voice, I had it muted. With all the cars around me I couldn’t get the voice back, and the screen was hard to focus on. 

Third check. Bright lights behind me, closing in fast. I reached up to the rear view mirror and adjusted it to make the bright lights softer, more harmonious with my need for calm. There were several buttons on the mirror I had not noticed. Then came a voice I did not want, not the GPS for sure. “This is OnStar.” “You have begun your OnStar call. What would you like?” I could see no off button. Silence didn’t work: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you.” Words didn’t work—I tried, “Off”: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand you.” Repeated apologies, making me truly sorry! 

Finally, almost distraught, I took the next exit, pulled over to the side of the road, and turned the engine off. The screen on the car radio gave me an option to turn OnStar off. I did so gratefully. Then I took stock of my situation. I tried to un-mute the GPS, unsuccessfully. (Not sure why. It un-muted fine the next day.) Then I looked at the screen. The GPS wanted me to turn around. Oakville evidently did not lie in my future if I kept driving down the road. 

I turned around and followed the GPS onto 407, the Electronic Toll Road (ETR). I gather that the ETR charges a flat rate of $15. I’ll find out when the charge comes through. But I needed to get to my host, so for my own sanity I took the ETR. Fifteen minutes later I pulled up to the address in Oakville and relaxed. Give me the prairies any day. And a GPS that has a voice.

1 comment:

KGMom said...

You drove Toronto crazy? Or Toronto drove you crazy? Or you drove crazily in Toronto?
Just glad you are safe.