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It’s a problem.  I haven’t driven in the Kansas City area for about thirty-five years.  A few things have changed.  It really doesn’t matter that my memory is a sieve; everything is different anyway.  What does matter, however, is that everyone is driving on the wrong side.  I suppose you’re thinking that it’s me that is out of step, or on the wrong side, as the case may be. And you’d be right, of course, but that doesn’t lessen the problem.

Now.  Having offered my excuses disclaimers, I should add that in order to assist me in getting around the area independently over the next few months I have leased a car (a sexy little red number.  V. cute) and I bought a TomTom satellite navigation gizmo to help me find my way.  So here’s the deal: I’m getting on famously with my little car–I call her Poppy, because of her colour–but TomTom and I are just not working out.  And it’s not my fault.  Honest.  I’ve done everything by the book, and besides, I have used a TomTom plenty before.  I think this particular TomTom is defective.

Meanwhile, he has caused me no end of trouble.  Indeed, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation amongst my friends at the reunion.  It isn’t just that I’ve been late to every single event;  it’s that I seem to have a particular knack for making every journey an adventure of discovery.  I should point out here that on these little odysseys of mine I have not used TomTom.  “Why not?” I hear you ask. “You obviously are a lousy navigator.”  To which I reply, “It only takes one little missed exit off the freeway to result in a complete wrong direction.  BUT, do you have any idea how much cunning and intuition (okay, and bald luck) it takes to get oneself back on track!?”  Until last night I had managed to get myself out of every mess on my own, without TomTom.  (Yes, I had lost a bit of faith in him after that first day when he kept taking me to a huge open field instead of home.  I approached that damn field from every possible direction.  At least he was consistent in where he thought I should be!)

Anyway, I reckon I’m a pretty good navigator to get myself out of strife.  And (until last night) I was never seriously late.  And I saw a lot of lovely countryside.  I won’t try to report exactly where I’ve been because those of you who don’t know the Kansas City area wouldn’t know where I was talking about, and because those of you who do know the area would.  I’ll just say that I’ve toured several of the neighbouring counties.

Last night was exceptional.  Not only was it the final night of the Reunion–The Dinner–it was the one time I had to turn to TomTom to bail me out.  And he almost did–eventually.  Here’s what happened:  As before, I missed a crucial (aren’t they all?) turn-off.  I was going to a new place so didn’t recognise landmarks anyway.  I don’t know where or when it dawned on me that “I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.”  Or maybe I was but I wasn’t supposed to be.  Whatever.  The point is, I was way, way off target.  I tried–Oh howI tried–to get back on track, but to no avail.  Finally, in total frustration, I plugged TomTom in.  But he refused to cooperate.  I know he’s a machine, and can’t really be throwing a tanty, but I’d swear he was.  I tried and tried and tried to program the address I wanted to go to, but he refused to take it.  Instead, he sent me round and round in loops.  As if I hadn’t already done enough of that!  So I did what any normal person would do when faced with a feral gizmo.  I pulled his plug and stuck him in the console. Then I flipped a coin to help me establish which direction I should try next.

Once back on the road, I had gone less than a mile before I began hearing a muffled and–dare I suggest contrite–voice coming from inside the console.  TomTom had had second thoughts and had decided to help me.  Naturally suspicious by now,  I weighed up my options.  What choice did I have but to go with him?  I have to say, he performed magnificently.  Lulled me into trusting him without question.  So when he dropped his zinger–at the very last turn-off, I was completely in his hands.

At last!  We had reached our destination. (Yes, I had come to think of us as a team.)  There it was, just on our right.  And there was the exit up ahead, also on our right. As I began to slow a bit in readiness  for the exit I waited for the instruction to “Exit right. 150 feet ahead take the exit.”  But the direction didn’t come.  What could I do but continue on?  It was probably a trick exit that wound around to the opposite direction and TomTom, of course, knew that.   But no.  The moment I was past the turn-off, he announced it. “Take the right exit.”  Damn!  You can’t tell me that wasn’t deliberate.  He’s going back to the pound store tomorrow.           MM

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