Hilda Loses Her Way

I suppose I should introduce you to Hilda. She’s our German-made SUV. To preserve her privacy, let’s just say that her make rhymes with……. Wait, nothing rhymes with “udi”. Never mind – we’ll just call her Hilda. Everyone names their cars, don’t they? Grandpa’s baby blue Nash with the 3-speed transmission shifter on the steering column was called “the machine”. I can hear Gramps yelling, “Come on Josie (Grandma was Josephine) get going, I’m gonna take you to the store in THE MACHINE.”  When the Princess and I were first married, we had a few cars named “sonofabitch” as in “that sonofabitch won’t start again.”  We’ll save that story for another time.

Anyway, Hilda let us down last week. I had a full route planned and loaded into Hilda’s GPS. A couple hours on the Interstate across the state and into downtown.  A nice hotel as our destination with the mission of shooting some 1st class B-roll for the YouTube channel.  Suitcase, GoPro, cooler and bag of traveling snacks were loaded into Hilda. Final bathroom break, lock the front door and the three of us headed out (the Princess, me, and Hilda).

The first few hours were flawless. The lady that lives in Hilda’s dashboard (a relative, I think. Maybe Hilda’s niece?) provided flawless directions. After more than a few “I don’t care” exchanges between the Princess and me about lunch, we settled on the least crowded fast-food restaurant on our route.

After an over-cooked burger, some soggy fries, and a watered-down orange soda, we were back on our way. Hilda’s niece, the lady in the dashboard, was spot on. Exit here, merge there, bear left ahead….. Hilda’s niece was groovin’.  I haven’t had this much coaching since I played high school basketball. About halfway thru the Spotify playlist (think Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets) Hilda’s niece, the lady that lives in the dashboard, is suddenly possessed by aliens. She begins by displaying our little car icon on the navigation screen smack in the middle of a woods. Not on the interstate we’re presently enjoying. I confirm our coordinates as 70-ish miles per hour head long thru the middle of a state forest. Confused between what I see out the windshield and what Hilda’s niece is telling me; I timidly push the “re-route” on her touch display.

My advice to you is, never, ever, NEVER, suggest to the niece of a mature German highway queen that she might have made an error. A split second after touching “re-route”, Hilda’s alien-possessed niece starts shouting commands REALLY LOUD (the Spotify playlist was cranked waaaaay up). She’s screaming…

“Turn left”
“Turn right”
“Make a U-turn”
“Return to the paved road”

We are just entering the metro area of our destination. Outer Belts, by-passes, Inner Belts, Cross Town Expressways, downtown left two lanes…… holy crap.

I slow to the posted speed limit of 55mph. Traffic is now whizzing by. REALLY FAST. On the left. On the right. Over the top. All the while Hilda’s niece is sputtering directionally challenged commands. The Princess begins the slightest of whimpers, mumbles something about being lost and starts regretting that we didn’t tell anyone we were bailing out for a few days. Me?? I try reasoning with the possessed lady that lives in the dashboard. No joy. She doesn’t skip a beat. It dawns on my sometimes geographically challenged brain that we are on the East Coast of the Sunshine State, headed EAST. Next stop – the Atlantic Ocean.

Wait – rational thinking, cooler heads prevail. We’ll simply look at the paper map. Why didn’t we/I/me/the Princess think of this before. “Oh, Dear” I say sweetly, “grab the map from the glove box, please.” What follows is a complete narrative of the glove box inventory from the Princess. Flashlight (dead batteries), tire pressure gauge, 3 coupons for a free car wash (all expired), a half pack of Doublemint gum, insurance ID card, vehicle license plate registration cards (in chronological order for several years) – and NO PAPER MAP. Well, it was worth a shot.

Eureka – the epiphany – we will simply re-boot Hilda. Re-jigger all the electronics. That’s the ticket — except it can’t be done in the middle lane of the interstate, in parts unknown, at somewhere between 55mph and the speed of sound. We need an exit ramp. One is upcoming. I accelerate to match the traffic flow and smoothly exit the interstate.

At the exit ramp traffic signal – I look around for anything familiar. Zip. We’re lost. That’s for certain. I remember the words of Lee Childs’ wandering hero, Jack Reacher. “When in doubt, always turn left.” Or was it “turn right?” Green signal. I go right and right again into an abandoned shopping center parking lot. The City’s Urban Redevelopment Commission would describe the surroundings as ripe for re-gentrification. Maybe I should have turned left. I’m guessing the locals don’t see many tourists fighting their GPS in this neighborhood,

In the shade of a tree, I push the “off” button on Hilda. The regular rumble from her engine stops. So does the air conditioning, a necessity in the mid-afternoon Florida sun. The three of us, Hilda, the Princess, and me sit in sweltering silence for a few minutes. How long?? Long enough for even the slowest navigation gremlin to exit the vehicle. I gingerly push the “start” button. Hilda responds instantly. Lights light, buzzers buzz, bells chime AND that little car icon on Hilda’s niece’s dashboard navigation screen depicts our location as smack in the middle of a parking lot adjacent to the interstate. I push the “resume” and a charming voice suggests I turn left, then left again to enter the interstate and continue the planned route to our destination. Life is good. The weekend adventure is great. YouTube viewers will go ga-ga over the new B-roll.

What’s this meandering babble about a GPS glitch doing in a blog on Sales Strategy?? A few weeks ago, I told you about including the technology of an iPad or other tablet in your EDC for sales presentations. I also suggested a hard copy or USB back up of all your planned meeting collateral. All good advice, as of this writing. Add to that list a paper map or printed route directions to the meeting location. Handy when attending a client meeting in your home locale. Vital, I say absolutely VITAL for getting to a meeting by rental car after a flight halfway across the country.

Mr Murphy likes to rock the boat at the most inopportune times.

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