I was driving in an unfamiliar area of town a couple of days ago and got turned around. Instead of continuing to wander – because who has time for that? – I turned on my GPS which was still in my car from the last out of town tennis tournament and got back on track.
I have a love-hate relationship with my GPS. I can’t deny it is a useful gadget but I sometimes go a different way than it directs me because I can. I do still like to use my brain to pay attention and learn my own way around.
Thinking about my GPS got me to thinking about how I used to get around before I had a GPS and from there my mind wandered to a time long ago and far away when I finished my undergrad degree and wanted to go to grad school. I grew up in Louisiana but was determined not to stay there – I wanted to go somewhere else. I ended up applying to several different schools and getting a financial offer from one in Ohio so that’s where I went. Exotic!
But it was the logistics of moving myself from Louisiana to Ohio that I was thinking about. This was a time before everyone had a home computer and even if you did have one you had to start it using a 5″ floppy disk and it was little more than a glorified typewriter. The internet may have existed but it was in its infancy and few people knew anything about it so there was no Google (gasp!) What’s a girl to do to rent an apartment in another state when there was no internet and no money or time to go in person? Why subscribe to the local newspaper by (snail) mail and then make a lot of phone calls from a landline. No cell phones either, kids.
I did manage to eventually find a decent apartment that would take me and my cat – which I rented sight unseen and totally on faith – and then packed my car up and drove to my new place using a paper map. Once there, I explored the area little by little in my car. If I needed to know where to find something specific, like a mall, I talked to people and got directions and then set off to find it, like an explorer.
With Google, Mapquest and GPSes, and cell phones with map apps we are all so much more connected than before (at least electronically) it seems nearly unfathomable to think of how I accomplished that move in such a basic low tech way. And people thought I was adventurous to move to another country – when I think back on that move to Ohio I’m even impressed with myself! (insert laugh track)
I hate to think about how much time I spend on my computer in an average day now, but having lived through a period of time with a little less technology was probably very helpful to me in being able to improvise and adapt when I finally did move abroad and (still) didn’t have much technology to help me along. Frankly, I don’t think my children would survive past ala “Back in Time”. Not so sure I want to go back there either!