Saturday, January 2, 2010

Technology and a false sense of Security

aka 'How a f&&king GPS unit can raise your blood pressure'

In my earlier post, I mentioned the fact that I was travelling in quite a well equipped car.  And for the most part, all of the particular technologies have served me well.  Until today.  I had a warning, however, so I am taking some responsibility in the situation I found myself in at 1:15pm this afternoon, in the middle of Barcelona traffic, on my way to return the car.  Over the past few days, I've used the GPS unit provided by the company with reasonable success.  At times, the unit's soothing female voice was even welcome as a form of companionship.  She would tell me to turn left (off a cliff face) and I would gently tell her she didn't know what the hell she was doing and turn right instead.  She'd 'recalculate' and then we'd be friends again.  She seemed to always know where she was, but not necessarily the best way to get to where we wanted to be.

So when I left France to return to Barcelona, I took information from a number of sources to suss whether I'd make it back to the car return place without having to refuel.  According to my GPS friend, I was 281 km from my destination and according to Renault, I had enough fuel to cover 350 kms.  Nice!  I had expected to drop the car off with the tank empty and here I had a bit of leeway for the potential detour to Figueres and the Dali museum.

Fast forward to the tunnels of Barcelona.  Renault has recalculated and stolen 50kms from me and left me with "--- kms" as a notice.  GPS says I still need to travel 30 kms (she's taking me the scenic route).  I wait until I cannot see any bar on the fuel gauge and then say the hell with it - find me a petrol station!  She does.  According to her, there is one 1.1km away, so I leave the tunnels, enter a roundabout with 7 exits, exit the 6th per her instructions and find that yes, there is indeed a petrol station 1.1 kms away - vertically.  I'm on fumes and this chick is leading me up a mountain road to the petrol station 1100 metres in the air.  It's actually 5.4 kms on the road.  Adrenaline is now coursing through my veins, I'm trying to remember every Spanish word regarding fuel, lack of, out of, please help me, on the presumption I am not going to make it.

But I do. I could swear I heard her giggle.  Bitch.