Tom Tom Travels

When my brother proudly announced that he’d purchased a TomTom Rider, so wouldn’t have any trouble finding my new house, I thought he’d lost the plot.

I had visions of politically incorrect ‘Cowboys and Indians’ films running through my head.

“Does it send out smoke messages?” I asked.

“No!” He replied. “It’s the latest model, I bought it online.”

I was still none the wiser as to what he was actually talking about. Online or not, ‘TomTom’ still suggested that he’d bought a drum. I hoped he wouldn’t arrive with a mohican, claiming that it was the latest retro trend hair cut in Islington this month.

When I saw the shiny new sat-nav system proudly displayed in the front of his car, I kept my mouth shut. As he showed it off, I pretended my queries had been purely ironic. It’s name was TomTom Rider. So at least there was still a little ‘Cowboys and Indians’ connection.

You see, I don’t drive, so the latest innovations in car navigation systems kind of pass me by (literally). If I get lost on my bicycle I stop and ask for directions. If I need to go further than my legs will carry me I get the bus or train. If I had sat-nav on my bike, I’d inevitably just cause a traffic incident whilst trying to look at it.

However, I do ‘get’ the point now. Well I did, until the other day.

Whilst waiting during one of those infuriating delivery slots ‘some time between eight and one’ I realised that sat-navs might not always be such a good thing.

As the clock ticked forward, and I was dangerously close to missing a one o’clock appointment, the phone rang.

“I’m on X road.” Said the deliveryman. “But I can’t see your road.”

What a relief ? he was just around the corner. I gave clear directions to my house. Admittedly, it’s quite a tucked away road, but since I could hear the dulcet tones of a sat-nav system in the background, I figured that between the two of us he’d find it.

Five minutes later, the phone rang again. I couldn’t understand why he was now, according to the road name he gave, further away than when he’d first called. So, I stayed on the phone and gave even clearer directions. The sat-nav was still chattering away in the background.

My calm directions became rather less calm, dare I say sarcastic, as the running dialogue between myself and Mr Delivery went, quite literally, round in circles. He drove up and down, failing to make the simple left hand turn I suggested about four or five times. I can only assume that living in a cul-de-sac was more than Mr Delivery and his sat-nav could cope with between them.

He did arrive, eventually. But if, he’d looked up for a moment, he would have seen my road name on the wall and saved ten minutes of frustration all round.

And the moral of the story is? Beware. Sat-navs are only as clever as the people who use them.