No GPS competes with a brain

Published 12:30 am Sunday, March 20, 2011

“I forgot to print the directions to your house,” I said to a friend last Sunday. “Can you tell me how to get there?”

“You have an iPhone? I will send you directions,” he replied.

“No,” I said proudly, while listening to a simultaneous groan on the other end of the line. “I am ‘Little House on the Prairie’ in the 21st century. I don’t need those fancy phones. I have a GPS on top of my shoulders.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

So he began with an almost contentious voice.

“This is the fastest, easiest way to get here,” he said, implying that he has given other guests a slower, more difficult way to arrive. Of course, I want the quickest and easiest way to get there.

With the advancements made in modern technology, the once-simple act of providing driving directions has given way to a hand-held contraption that hopefully gets you where you want to go. The art of direction-giving — and following — are fading fast.

“Get off at the Airport Road exit. You know when you turn left you go toward Miskelly’s and the airport? Don’t go that way.” You mean turn right? Why bring a massive furniture store and airport into play? Just say, “Turn right.”

I was writing the directions on the back of a grocery receipt; crossed off are now “airport” and “Miskelly’s.”

“Go past the prison and before you get to the Dollar General turn right.” By the time one gets to the Dollar General, though, the road to turn on is in the rearview mirror.

“Go for a few miles (iPhone and GPS users obviously have no concept of a few miles). The road on the left is mine, but there is no sign.”

I sensed trepidation about my arrival as he said often to call if — or more likely, when — I got lost. The odds on my non-arrival were 5-to-1. I should have taken that action.

I love not relying on satellites circling overhead. I rely on brain power rather than technology, especially when dealing with getting places. It’s a skill handed down from my grandfather to my dad to me, but I fear I am quickly becoming a dying breed of people who feel a sense of accomplishment at figuring something out rather than being told what to do by a computerized voice.

Later that evening, the host offered to show me on an iPhone map the way home.

I politely declined.

I just turned the scratch-paper directions upside down and read them backward.

It proved to be the quickest and easiest way home.

Sean P. Murphy is web editor. He can be reached at