Thursday, February 3, 2011


I have Sprint cellphone service. My phone comes with Sprint Navigation, a sometimes useful GPS-type service.

The service has its quirks.

Today, I was trying to locate Batteries Plus. (I needed a new charger for my camera battery.) I knew more or less where the place was (it's "south of the Big Chicken," which is how directions are given here in Marietta). So I'm "south of the Big Chicken" in a shopping center, and not finding the Batteries Plus.

Sitting in the parking lot of this shopping center, I pull out my cellphone, activate Sprint Navigation, and tell it to search for Batteries Plus. It finds the listing, and I tell it I want driving instructions. It tells me "Drive point-two miles."

Now, I'm in a parking lot, I'm not facing an exit, and the lot's not that big. Clearly, it wants me to drive on Highway 41, which I already figured, but I have no idea whether I should turn left or right out of the lot. I mentally flip a coin and opt for right, a right turn being much easier.

And that's the right--er, correct--choice. I'm heading south on Highway 41. "Destination is point-two miles ahead on your right." And as I get closer, I get, "Turn right." Oddly, it doesn't tell me what street name I'm supposed to be turning onto. This usually would mean that the destination is right there--on Highway 41. But it isn't. "Destination is on your right," the phone insists. And as I keep driving south, looking for an invisible store, I get the fatal ding-ding-ding. That means I've pissed off the Sprint Navigation Goddess by ignoring its instructions and doing my own thing. "Calculating new route. Proceed point-1 mile and make a u-turn."

Now I'm not sure why I want to drive another point-1 mile in what Sprint Navigation is convinced is the wrong direction, but I'm not suicidal enough to make a u-turn from the far right lane (remember, I was looking for Batteries Plus on my right)--across 4 lanes of Highway 41 traffic--just so I can appease the Navigation Goddess. (Oh, did I mention that it's lunchtime? And that this stretch of Highway 41 probably contains at least 25 restaurant/fast food establishments--everything from Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q to the Big Chicken itself?)

I do--eventually--manage a u-turn. I stay in the left-most lane, now headed northbound on Highway 41, looking for Batteries Plus on what had been the right side of the road, but now is my left. The Navigation Goddess chimes in with, "Continue on Cobb Parkway--" [that's Highway 41's alias; all roads in Georgia have to have two names--it's how we entertain the tourists]-- "Continue on Cobb Parkway point-three miles. Your destination is on your right."

What? I'm looking for Batteries Plus--not some intergalactic wormhole that shifts from one side of the road to the other, thereby always remaining on my right. The place sells batteries--and their chargers--not interdimensional travel options.

At this point--finally--Sprint Navigation actually has got the correct location. Batteries Plus is, indeed on my right. And, oh joy, they have my charger in stock. I now can recharge my camera battery, the old charger having apparently drifted through the intergalactic wormhole that isn't on your right when you're heading south on Highway 41.

Of course, Sprint Navigation wasn't through screwing with me for the day. It tried--three times--to send me back to a store I'd just left when I asked it to give me directions to another branch of the chain. I click that I want directions to Hobby Lobby in Kennesaw; Sprint Navigation gives me directions that start "Make a u-turn" (that's never a good sign), and tries to take me back to the store in Alpharetta. I know how to get from Alpharetta-to-Marietta-to-Kennesaw. But I suspect there's a more direct way to get from Alpharetta to Kennesaw. I never found it, though. I drove for a while, got tired of hearing ding-ding-ding! Calculating new route from the Navigation Goddess, and turned the damned thing off.

Today's blogpost is brought to you by Nehalennia, the Germanic goddess of navigation and commerce. I think she's taken up residence in my cellphone.