Satnav. What’s that all about then?

How the hell do people keep managing to drive themselves into ponds and over cliffs or whatnot? Do people not glance up from time to time when driving? I can virtually guarantee that there will be nothing but empty track where I am driving but even I glance up occasionally! Do people not have common sense? Do they not ever think to themselves ‘Oops, summat wrong here! Best not drive into that Atlantic Ocean’??

Actually I can answer my own question. If they had common sense they’d surely have learnt to read a map properly. I look on in amazement when people claim not to be able to do simple things like read maps. Mind you, I also looked on in amazement when somebody on a daytime TV show complained at length the other week because her husband hadn’t put together the flat-pack furniture they’d purchased four years ago and thus it was currently still in the garage. Why couldn’t she just build the furniture herself if it was so important? I am deeply puzzled by people sometimes.

Where was I? Oh yeah, satnav. I can see that it has it’s uses. If you don’t know an area well and don’t want to buy local streetmaps for every part of the UK then fair enough, satnav is just the thing. But really, there’s nothing wrong with carrying a map around. Any time I’m off to an unfamiliar part of London (or even just my Borough) I pack my trusty A-Z. It’s now many years out of date and some of the buildings – and no doubt roads – will have disappeared but the nice thing about it is that it won’t dump you into an unexpected river and it gives you something to read on the tube.

And why don’t people carry tube maps with them? Ever since I moved to London I have pretty much always had a tube map somewhere about my person. OK, not when I’m in the bath but even then I still have one in the next room. It astounds me the number of people who just wander into a station and ask how to get somewhere. This works out fine if you happen to ask a CSA whose job it is to refill the map stands and to direct people to other stations. Not so great if you happen to ask a passing driver who only knows their own line. The idea that drivers do not intimately know the whole of the Combine puzzles some people. But think about it, most people only know the tube intimately if they use it frequently. So a route to work, alternative route in case the first is disrupted, routes to regular entertainment venues and that’s about it. For all else people need to check. Well it’s the same for drivers, we know how to get to work, we know how to drive up and down our own lines and that’s about it. Ask us where such-and-such is and we’ll ask you which line it is on. Ask us how to get to so-and-so from here and we’ll drag you off to the nearest wall map. We have, at least, learned where the maps are. Either that or we’ll just direct you in the other direction from where-ever we are currently walking to. It’s not important where we send you, so long as it is away.

So carry maps. And know where you are going. And check before you travel. All that good stuff. And pray that they never develop any form of satnav for tube drivers!

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