That was EZ!

I loved the episodes of Bewitched when one of Aunt Clara’s spells went awry and an historic figure like Benjamin Franklin or George Washington materialized in the middle of Samantha’s living room or Darin’s office.  I thought it was hysterical to watch how confused they were by all of the modern conveniences like telephones, cars, and indoor plumbing.

I have to wonder what William Penn might think if he had been transported from the past into the backseat of my Volvo the other day as my son and I made the trip back to Yardley from the Newark airport.  Our topics of conversation included impressions of a full body scan vs. traditional security, whether it was everyone or just us that got a pat down in addition to the body scan, and the limitations of the GPS in an area that has right turns that appear to be exits and a bazillion roads converging in a compact geographic area.

“I’m going to text Dan and let him know that we’re stuck in traffic on the Turnpike,” Christian said.

We crawled along the road, watched the vehicles zipping by in the car and truck lane, and contemplated the wisdom of crossing over from the car only lane through one of the openings marked “For Official Use Only.”

I pointed to the toll booths, “We’re almost there.  After this we should be home free.”

“It would be even faster if we had an EZPass and didn’t have to go through one of the cash only lanes,” he said.

“You’re right, I think it’s time.  I’ll Google it when we get home and figure out how to get one.”

William might have been even more confused if he had watched me find the website for the Pennsylvania Turnpike on my iPad, send the link to one of my three email addresses, and bookmark the site to my favorites.

I felt a little like William when I drove to Acme today to purchase my EZPass. I wasn’t quite convinced I wouldn’t make a fool of myself at the Customer Service desk, after all, a Transponder sounds like something you would purchase at a science fiction memorabilia shop or a comic book convention, not at a grocery store.

The brochures on the counter reassured me that I was in the right place.  I paid for my pass, listened carefully to the instructions to register my gadget within 72 hours, and hoped I’d be able to figure out how to mount it properly in my car.

I spotted an SUV in the parking lot that had a white square on the windshield under the rear view mirror, so I pulled up next to it and confirmed my interpretation of the “Transponder Mounting Instructions.”

My heart pounded just a little as I passed through the toll booth at five miles per hour on the return leg of my test drive to Hamilton and back.  There were no tickets, no one ran after me, and I think the light that flashed as I drove through meant everything was good to go.

I used “Go Pak” to register online, breathed a sigh of relief, and thought to myself, “That wasn’t so hard, in fact it was EZ.”

Turn Around When Possible

Back in the dark ages, before I had a GPS, prior to any outing, my kids demonstrated what considerate people they are by looking the address up on MapQuest.  Not only did they look up the directions, they printed out both map and the text directions and maybe most importantly, they calculated an appropriate departure time.

They’ve never told me this, but I’m fairly sure that they collaborated on and developed a complicated algorithm to determine when we should leave, an equation based on the estimated time according to MapQuest, whether or not we’d been there before, and the number of turns along the route.  I’m certain that each additional turn exponentially increased the risk of getting lost, which is something I seem to do very well.   I also suspect that their motives may have been more out of self-preservation than thoughtfulness.

I’m a pro at getting lost, what I don’t do so well is staying calm while I’m off course.  The more disoriented I am, the redder my face gets and the more irrational and irritable I become.  It’s especially unpleasant if I forgot to brew my coffee with an even mix of leaded and un-leaded.  (There’s a reason my kids call me half-caf).

I’ve been known to call friends and family from unintended destinations which have included finding myself in a neighboring state rather than wherever it was I was trying to get to.  The most dramatic by far was when I was in my early twenties on a job hunting mission. I somehow found myself on the toll bridge going into East St. Louis sweating through the back of my dress as the warnings about going over the bridge raced through my head as I approached the toll booth.  I handed the shaking dollar to the silver haired attendant.

“Honey…are you sure you want to cross this bridge?” he asked.

“Noo…I got lost….” I replied.

He handed my dollar back and said, “Honey, across that bridge ain’t no place for you.”

To this day I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to stop traffic and find a way for me to turn around and head back to the security of being lost in a slightly safer city.

You can imagine how relieved people close to me were when they heard I purchased a GPS a few years ago.  No more phone calls from across the river wondering how I got there and how to get where I needed to go:  no more MapQuest or Google Maps, no more irrational outbursts, and no more getting lost.  I think the person that was the most relieved was me, no more embarrassing albeit funny stories of getting lost.

Much to my chagrin that has not been the case.  Between cities that have one name on Google Maps or MapQuest and another name in my GPS, walking vs. driving instructions on my smart phone, and good old “operator error,”  I still manage to find ways to end up in a CPA firm inquiring about my scheduled Tarot card reading.

A young woman raised her head from behind her monitor and asked, “Can I help you?”

“I…I…ummm I have an appointment….” I stuttered.

“What is the appointment in regard to?” she inquired.

“Uhhhh…a Tarot card reading….ummm…I’m pretty sure I have the wrong place,” I replied.

“Oh.  That must be on North Sixteenth this is South Sixteenth, we’re an accounting firm ma’am.”

My guess is they’re still laughing about it, I know I am.