Sunday, June 19, 2011

“Irwin, You Butthead!”

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

I know Irwin (our faithful GPS) thinks we pick on him too much and we don’t give him enough credit. Sometimes the things he does are funny; sometimes if we followed his lead they would be dangerous; and sometimes he’s just being a butthead with his directions.

In the spring of 2009 on our trip to Ohio, we were looking for our motel in the dark. I think maybe you’ve heard this about us before – we never get to our motel until well after dark, it seems. Well, the motel where we had made a reservation was supposed to be located just off the interstate. As we came down the four-lane, divided highway, Irwin announced loudly that we should make a left turn.

Joann looked to her left, and there was a concrete divider and two more lanes of traffic in front of a tall fence. She went straight, and Irwin announced again that we should make a left turn immediately. As we were looking around in puzzlement, he then announced that we should drive a half mile and then make a U-turn. As we approached the half-mile point, we could see that there was a frontage road coming off of the highway, and that if we turned on the frontage road, we could get to our motel.

Even as we turned into the motel parking lot, Irwin was telling us to turn around and go back to the highway to get to our motel. As we shut him off for the night, all we could say was “Irwin, you butthead.”

A month or so ago, we finished up a short but fulfilling photography trip, and then wanted to head east to do some volunteer work for a couple of hours. I knew we had to go east, but I couldn’t decide on the best route, since many of the roads went north and south or northeast to southwest. I asked Joann if I should just give Irwin our desired destination and let him direct. We decided to see what he would do. The first few turns were exactly as I would have done. Then Irwin announced we should turn into the country club (at least that’s what it sounded like).

Joann: “What did he say?”

Ruth: “I don’t know, something about a country club.”

Joann (looking around in consternation): “Where do you think I’m supposed to turn?”

Ruth (checking the map): “Oh, I get it; he thinks CC stands for Country Club! Turn on County CC.”

On a recent photography trip, we were headed home in the late afternoon. We had pushed “Home” so that Irwin could direct us home from our last photo stop. As we entered a small town close to home, I read the name of one of the stores we were passing. Joann commented that she had meant to stop in and check them out, and asked if I would mind a short stop. I said I didn't mind and decided to wait in the car. We were parked on a side street and the car was off, but Irwin was impatient. After several minutes, he announced that we should drive one half mile and enter the roundabout. His directions were good, but we weren’t moving!

And then a couple of weekends ago, we had another volunteer activity to complete and we had to leave Joann’s house at 2:30 in the morning. When we reached the end of Joann’s driveway, we sat wondering which way would be the best way to go. Again, we turned to Irwin, and I programmed in the city where we would meet our sister, Peggy, before continuing to our final destination. Irwin thought about it for a minute and then announced the direction we should take. As we started to follow his directions, we began to wonder if he was taking us on the right roads. So I zoomed out on his map to see the route, and we decided that maybe he knew better than we did.

We wound our way south on quite a few backroads before we hit the main road north of New Glarus, Wisconsin. At this point, as he often does, Irwin announced that we should “turn right on Hwy 69, and then drive 23 miles on Main Street.” He likes to fool with us like that. He always uses street names rather than highway names. He would much rather say to “turn left on Columbus Ave” than to tell us to follow Hwy 22 to the left. (Sometimes I think he does it just so he can recalculate when we get lost!)

After completing our volunteer work, we were tired and just wanted to get home. So we punched "Home" and we thought Irwin would just reverse the route he had taken on the way there. But he took somewhat of a different route going home. At one point Joann commented that it was sort of fun taking different routes to and from our destination.

But then he tricked us again and we ended up taking a bunch of heavily traveled highways and going way out of our way to get back home. We might have caught on sooner, but we had just spent close to 11 hours on our volunteer work and we were too tired to argue with him. We cussed him all the way home in heavy traffic and tried to figure out why he would take us on the scenic backroads in the dark of night, and then direct us to main, heavily traveled roads during the light of day.

Some days, Irwin is just a butthead.

So if you’re out shunpiking with your trusty GPS, don’t believe everything it says. It might be just fooling with you!

Happy Shunpiking!

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