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June 2008 Volume 10 , Issue 6 submit to us!

by Diane Steinbach -- Senior Staff Writer [Email This Story]

My hands are still shaking as I drink my iced mocha and munch on some forbidden pound cake. I can’t believe I made it back to tell the tale.

I had to drive on the expressway without my GPS unit.

Okay, not a big deal for most of you, but I have a bit of a driving phobia. I inherited this trait from my mother, who, with me in the car, accidentally got on the expressway and had a freak out. She screamed in exaggerated terror as we wound our way through the curve of the ramp, as I, ten years old then, calmly told her to get off at the next exit.

Where was that calm ten year old today.

Adding to the genetic fear factor, my mom also taught me to drive. My phobic reaction to driving kept me on the bus all the way through college, and only an east-side job after graduation forced me to look the license situation in the eye. I took lessons from Acme Driving School, and Mom took me to practice. We were usually limited to driving around the cemetery.

Now, this was no problem for me because I knew my way around that cemetery. After all, that’s where Mom took me to "liberate" sod for our backyard, but that’s a whole nother story.

So, Mom still was pretty nervous about being in the passenger seat and she almost crashed us into some headstones when she grabbed the wheel thinking I was parking too fast. Sheesh. Is it any wonder I have a phobia?

Eventually I got my license, and it took me another 10 years to learn my way around my hometown of Milwaukee and actually use the freeway system there. This was a comical handicap, as there were really only two main freeways in town, but still, I could get lost in a circle.

So, time moves on and I get married and start moving around the country with my husband Norman. We laugh as we determine my "circle" of comfort driving in each new town we move to. My circle usually consists of a grocery store and post office. That was pretty much all I needed. I could usually make a friend in any town and have them cart my phobic- ass around town if I really needed to. This worked for a while.

Recently we moved to Kentucky, outside of Louisville, and although I still had my circle, I craved a little more variety. Since neither Norm nor I knew where anything was, getting a GPS unit seemed the perfect solution. It was.

Now, Norm has had to go away for weeks at a time so I relied on my GPS unit even more. If I ever wanted to get a Starbucks or a hair cut for that matter I would have to get myself on the expressway. It should be easier with the GPS; after all, the majority of my fear was related to getting lost. With my Nuvi, I could get home from anywhere! Awesome.

So, while he has been gone I have tried to face my fears and spread my wings. I made it to the mall and to the Starbucks . . . what more did I need?

Then I get an email from my friend Frenchie who says she is going to visit! Great. Now I have to face my fears again and get myself to the airport. I spend a week thinking about it and talking myself into bravery. Ok.

Then, three days before her visit I get in my car and my Nuvi 780 is lying on the floorboard. The suction cup has let loose and there it lays, if it had eyes, they would have been rolled up into its LCD head.

I reattach it and  . . . nothing. If it had eyes this is where I would slowly cover them with my hands and somehow close their useless lids.

How can this be? When I need my Nuvi the most? I can’t get around without it, and I can barely get around WITH it!

I fumble with it for hours, nothing. I pray, sacrifice a chicken and do a dance to a multitude of Gods. Still nothing.

I call Garmin, the manufacturer. They say, "If you take it back to the store you bought it from they will exchange it for you."

I reply, "I can’t get to the store that I bought it from without my Nuvi!" Ugh.

I go "old-school" and do a mapquest for the Best Buy store in the next county. I swallow my fear and with shaking hands make my way to the store.

I get into the parking lot and take a deep breathe. I made it! I take my defunct Nuvi and go to customer service. A friendly gal approaches me and says, "no problem, let me just have a Geek look at it."

Minutes later she approaches me with a functioning GPS. My GPS. My Nuvi.

It was now working, miraculously, and it was a good thing. I needed it to get home.

So now here I sit, recovering from my freeway fiasco. Do I feel empowered by my adventure? No. Not really. I do feel okay about it though, and once my hands stop shaking I might even go to the mall to celebrate!

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Features -- June 2008 -- Beginning Month Issue

Diane Steinbach
-- Additional Work --