“Did everybody just get these for Christmas?”

Beware of using your Christmas gift GPS until you’re smart enough to learn the thing’s limitations.

In a holiday hurry, Jeramie Griffin piled his family into the car and asked his new GPS for the quickest way from his home in the Willamette Valley across the Cascade Range.

It said he could shave 40 minutes off the time of the roundabout route he usually takes to the in-laws’ place.

Following the directions, he and his wife headed east on Christmas Eve and into the mountains, turning off a state highway onto local roads and finally getting stuck in the snow.

They had no cell phone service and ran short on formula for their 11-month-old daughter. After taking exploratory hikes, trying to dig out and spending the night in their car, the distraught couple filmed a goodbye video.

Like two other parties of holiday travelers who followed GPS directions smack into Oregon snowbanks, Griffin and family were eventually rescued. But their peril left law enforcement officers and travel advisers perplexed about drivers who occasionally set aside common sense when their GPS systems suggest a shortcut.

“Did everybody just get these for Christmas?” asked Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger, leader of one rescue effort.

In Griffin’s case, in fact, the GPS device was a Christmas gift, from his parents. He used it for the first time to plan the trip to Central Oregon.

Great Ghu. According to the article, this guy has been making this trip for several years over the same route, “a route travelers have found reliable since at least the days of the Oregon Trail,” and never had a problem. But handed a piece of technology that he apparently barely understands, he blindly places his faith in it, drives up a Forest Service road and gets stuck. Jeeze, didn’t we just hear about something similar? Does Bozo not read the news?

Obviously he does–just about as often as he reads the instruction manuals.

Interestingly enough, the other amateurs in his family found him by using the same model GPS and plotting the route they assumed he would take. After 24 cold and somewhat hungry hours (because Bozo was not smart enough to plan ahead like our initial case study couple and have warm clothes, food, etc. in the vehicle), Bozo, Mrs. Bozo and their 11 month old daughter were rescued.

Win for Darwin averted–this time.

The blind reliance on technology, high or otherwise, can get you very dead very quickly. Your ability to survive in a bad situation is going to rely primarily on one thing–that material between your ears. Use it early to plan. Think of the things that are likely to occur, that might occur and that could possibly occur, and think them through. Have plans and gear in place to deal with them.

Use it during to provide continual sanity checking. “Hey, the GPS wants to take me up this road that has two feet of snow on it and there are no tire tracks in the snow. This might be a Bad Idea.”

Use it during to keep yourself alive. Bozo at least used it enough to figure out that staying with the vehicle was a prudent course of action.

Use it after to dissect the experience, learn from it and be prepared next time to make better decisions. Let experience turn into wisdom.

But for crying out loud, USE IT!

3 thoughts on ““Did everybody just get these for Christmas?”

  1. First let me say I like the new look, goes with the new year and all.

    One should never place full faith into a machine, but only in his knownledge of how to use it propertly,and that like all machines they can fail you.

    Be smarter than the gadet.

  2. We have a navigation system and totally love it. One of the best gadgets I have ever owned. Still if it told me to take a sharp left while I was on a bridge I would keep going strait. Gadgets can't be blamed for people being idiots.

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