Guardian Angel versus Google Maps

I’ve had to make four (4) trips to a medical-type place in the last three weeks, and if you’re thinking “Surely this place must be ten miles away,” you would be wrong for the first time. Because this place is (gasp) seventeen miles away.

Google Maps is in love with the Interstate. It wants to route me through two interstates, which isn’t a problem until you find the highway has bloomed orange  with construction cones and you’re faced with two miles of tail-lights. Thus a 35 minute trip turns into an hour.

Before the second trip, I became besties with Google Maps, which refused to give up its dream that I would travel the Interstate along with the other two million people who’d asked for directions that morning. “But it’s two minutes faaaaaster,” it whined whenever I dragged the little dot to the city streets, and kept putting my route back on the interstates. Finally as revenge, it tried to plot a route through dirt roads that changed names every two miles. (Sorry, never doing that again.)

I found a familiar state route that winds around every obstacle like a twenty-mile-long snake through suburbia, and it met the route where the office was located. Google Maps sobbed that it would take five minutes longer than the Interstate (if only there were no traffic). I’ll take my chances.

Off I headed, following the state route, and all was bliss until I had a sudden realization: I was no longer on the state route. Instead we were at 25mph on a wooded road passing people’s mansions and an Audubon Society preserve, and I had no idea where we were because there’s a state law against posting street signs.

And then at some point, we popped out of the woods, and I’m looking up at a sign that says “Welcome to DESTINATION TOWN!” and there’s a three-storey-high train trestle overhead. And I blurted out, “What the heck am I doing on ### Street?”

When was the last time I was on that street? I can tell you: December, 2005. I was picking up a friend to drive to another friend’s wedding. But we were in the right town. I turned onto that street and took it, hoping it would connect with the state route I eventually wanted to meet. Because that always works.

A mile down the road, it ended in a T intersection. My sense of direction told me to go right, but in my head, I heard my guardian angel push, Go LEFT.

It’s not that I don’t trust the angel’s sense of direction. But I don’t trust my ability to hear, so I pulled over and got out a map. I flagged over a pedestrian (how often do you see those nowadays?) and she verified where we were, acting like it was sooo far to the medical office. It was two (long) streets away. And yes, I needed to go left.

I kept driving. At one point I wanted to check the map again, and I thought, “Hey, I could really use a red light around now…” and the light ahead of me turned. Awesome. One more turn and we’d be on the destination route.

And that’s how I got to the medical office on time that day. By getting lost on a route that was a lot shorter and more direct than what I intended to take.

Oh, and how did I get on that route in the first place? I don’t know, because on the way back I passed the intersection where the state route turned and I’d gone straight, and it’s marked with only about twenty-five green and white signs that say “TURN! For heaven’s sake, TURN HERE!”

I kept using that route for the other appointments. Guardian angels know better than Google Maps.


  1. Marie

    Google maps so loves interstate highways that it told me to get to a cemetery by parking on a shoulder of a (toll) interstate highway, scramble down the steep bank, jump over the stream and scramble up the steep bank on the other side. The walking directions were drivable.

    1. philangelus

      Now that’s devotion!

  2. Lorraine E. Castro

    Amen to that! Guardian Angels are our best sources for everything!

  3. cricketB

    Google Maps claims that Cobblestone Street Mall is on George Street. To be honest, it is, since that’s the postal address and where the busses get in and where big delivery trucks wait. Most natives (except my husband) and all newcomers use one of several entrances on Cobblestone Street or the one around the corner on the other major street.

    Then we have the field trip to a conservation area. The area’s website said it was south of the big highway. I knew this because I looked up the site earlier, to see what to expect during the trip (and possibly because I was bored that evening). The driver, however, had done his research with Google Maps, who said it was north. The teachers had printed instructions from the website, which clearly said south. The driver pointed to his Google Maps printout. He clearly had done his homework and knew his job, and no teacher was going to convince him otherwise.

    Eventually the teachers used another piece of technology: a cell phone. Google Maps had tried to send us to the administration centre.

  4. Ken Rolph

    Try getting instructions to drive to Sydney. You’ll probably be told to drive to San Francisco and take a kayak across the Pacific Ocean. Why bother with this immature technology? It’s mostly good as a computer game. Some technologies are enabling. This one is disabling. On ly good for fun anecdotes.