When I was little, I thought my grandpa had installed an advanced navigational system in his car. This was crazy, as it was the 70’s. Not only did we not have computers, we didn’t even have LED screens. Heck, even the radio was a twist-dial that only got AM!
Nevertheless, when GPS was developed a couple decades later, I was more surprised than anyone else. I had never realized that this sort of system didn’t exist until suddenly everyone was talking about it.
How did I wind up at this absurd notion? Let’s consider the evidence:
Whenever we went anywhere in his car, grandpa would insist on going out to “get it ready” at least 5-10 minutes early. Sure, in the winters we had to warm up those old cars for a good while before you put it in gear. But I naturally assumed he had a purpose to this the rest of the year, too.
As soon as we piled into the car, grandma would ask, “Now, are you sure you know where you’re going?”
Rather than a yes or no answer, grandpa would say, “Don’t worry. We’ll get there.”
As a grown and married woman, I now realize this translates to, “I’ll point the car in the general direction and hope things turn out alright.” But as a kid, I figured he had some sort of ace in the hole to help him make that statement with such certainty.
And now here’s the kicker: when we got to the next town, grandpa’s turn signal would start blinking a good quarter mile before the actual turn!
I didn’t know anything about cars in those days. I had no idea he was nudging a lever to turn the signal on because I never saw him do it. So I got the notion that the signal was telling him when to turn.
This felt true because almost every time, when grandma would say, “Your turn’s coming up – you have to slow down!” grandpa would suddenly sit up straight, looking as alarmed as anyone that he was coming up on the turn too fast. I figured he hadn’t noticed that his blinker had been going for several minutes.
Grandpa always had a confident air about finding things, the same relaxed, no-worries approach of people nowadays who are using GPS. No matter how convinced grandma was that we’d taken a wrong turn, he’d always maintain that we were fine, right on time, gonna be there in any moment. And when we finally reached it, even if the house we were visiting suddenly appeared to be on the opposite side of the street of where they’d both been looking, he’d shift into park with a flourish and and give grandma a jaunty grin.
Yes, kids, in our day we didn’t have fancy computers with accurate navigation. We got by on cockiness, patience, and luck.
Oh, and it helped that none of the passengers could pull up maps on their phones to prove we were going the wrong way.