Mythical Maps

Sometimes, I leave Emily-the-sat-nav on, when I’m returning from my destination on a known route home, just to see if I can annoy her.  It’s purely in the interests of education, you understand.  I have a feeling she’s been repressed, and requires exposure to the frustrations of everyday modern life.

So, when she says, ‘Recalculating,’ I reply, ‘Please wait, while we try to connect you.’  She remains calm, despite my continued refusal to turn right at any of the several next junctions. 

I’ve never quite trusted her ability to maintain such calm.  Somewhere under that po-faced-tone is a sense of humour, I’m sure. If there is no personality, why has she been given a human name?  

The Urban Dictionary says that: 
A girl with the name Emily can be very shy at first, but she doesn’t show it. Once an Emily gets to know you, she may get a little crazy. An Emily is usually artistic. They tend to hide their emotions, they’re good problem solvers and very flexible with schedules.

Clearly, sat-nav-Emily needs encouragement to reach her full potential.  So, I keep a tatty old map book behind the seat, and periodically, I do Observation Reports on Emily’s navigation skills.  Her potential gradings are ‘Exceptional’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement,’ or ‘Inadequate.’  

Up to now, there’s been little change in my feedback:  While Emily is technically competent, she lacks zing or charm.  Accuracy is all very well, but her delivery is dry.  I’m not suggesting she needs to go so far as, ‘here be monsters,’ but a little colour might liven up a delivery that borders on monotony.  There have been times when Emily has failed to put her point across effectively, even at full volume.  Hence my grading is: Requires Improvement.

Suggested Actions: Emily should familiarise herself with some A-Zs, which are rumoured to contain jokes, and even some of the older maps, which demonstrate charm, imagination and artfulness while still maintaining their basic accuracy.

*Image taken from: No Mean Prospect: Ralph Sheldon’s Tapestry Maps, by Hilary L. Turner.

31 thoughts on “Mythical Maps

  1. Great blog. I think most of us experience the same frustrations with our Emily, or in my case Ms Google. I didn’t trust her on one journey and followed the road signs but no hissy fit emanated from her. But instead of arriving at my destination I landed at Hill of Tara. When I asked a bemused tourist where I was she must have thought me loopy. Of course, I followed the wrong sign name. Hate to admit it. But Ms Google was right.

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    • It’s so good to discover I’m not the only person who has issues with their sat-nav. I do like the sound of Hill of Tara, a name like that must have an interesting history, surely? Was it miles from where you were intending to go, and did it matter that you were late? I hope not.

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      • Hill of Tara, seat of the old King’s of Ireland, several thousand years old. Big tourist attraction. Yes, it was miles away, about an hour and a half because I seemed to drive all around Ireland doing U turns, travelling the same road and all that nonsense. And no bother about being late because it was a pleasure trip. By the time I arrived at Tara though I just wanted to go home and did not stop to explore. Maybe I will visit next year.

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  2. Can I suggest that you ignore the update prompts Emily’s minder gives? This way when you start to travel along a newly constructed route and Emily notes you are travelling off-piste through fields or water meadows she may start to reveal aspects of her character she has so far hidden: she may retain her sang-froid or expose an otherwise hidden vein of humour. Alternatively, she may revert to type and start recalculating, or advise you to “Turn around whenever possible.” That’s more likely than that she loses her cool…

    Incidentally, being married to an Emily I can vouch that the Urban Dictionary definition is 90% accurate. Not a bad grade…

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    • Thank you, good idea on the witholding updates. I’m not particularly prompt with them as it is, this will be a good excuse to put that job on the back-burner.

      I also know one or two human Emilys, and thought the definition fitted them too. Must be something in this naming business.

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  3. Haha, fab! We now use Australian Sheila, having found Emily a bit pompous and lacking charisma. Not that Sheila is much better but you do get the feeling she may utter an expletive in moments of duress. It’s curious how we talk to our machines. Are we now so used to electronic interactions that it seems perfectly normal to address inanimate devices as if they understand. Or maybe they do? Is it all more Big Brother than even Orwell anticipated?
    I sometimes feel Sheila gets a bum deal. Treated as an irritant when we get near to home and she ‘teaches us to suck eggs’ as it were, she is often given a stream of abuse when trying to steer us through unfamiliar areas. There I go again, attributing human feelings.
    I love the idea of your surreptitiously looking at your map book in order to irritate Emily. Though if the Urban Dictionary is correct, it will take a lot to provoke a reaction.

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    • Sheila, now there’s a thought. Maybe we could get used to a different voice. I wonder what she’d make of some of the names that Emily mispronounces…

      We talk to and name inanimate machines, in my experience. Mechanics seem to always call engines ‘she’, and I wonder how long sailors have been naming their boats? Vikings used to name their favourite swords or hatchets, I believe…

      I’ll probably continue to test Emily’s reactions – I won’t say patience, because it’s clear that she’s got oodles more than i have. I’m hoping to appeal to her artistic side, which according to the definition she should be bursting to express by now.

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  4. Thanks for the laugh, Cath. My sat-nav system is an Australian nameless version of Siri who gets rather snarky with me when I don’t do as she instructs with the immediacy she apparently expects. She tells me to “proceed to the route” in an increasingly louder and more demanding voice, even as I sit at a traffic light. I’m almost expecting her to start huffing and sighing, or resorting to full-out name calling! 🙂 A fun post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana, glad to have shared a smile.
      I think I’m getting drawn towards ‘dumping’ Em for an Australian voice. I like the idea that she might display temper of some kind. I can’t help feeling it would make me smile.

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    • The Sheldon tapestry is beautiful, isn’t it? Certainly hand-drawn then hand-stitched. What a commission to be given.

      Glad you enjoyed this. For me it’s not Emily who causes stress, it’s the little timer in the corner telling me how many minutes I’m losing at all the junctions. I’m so glad she doesn’t tell me that.

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  5. ha-ha! I like your Emily she sounds…reliable. My Emily was an Anglophile and xenophobic to boot. She insisted that Ste. Colombe didn’t exist but then she couldn’t find Paris either. So now she’s retired, taken out only if I make a quick dash to the UK.

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    • You’re right, Emily is reliable, I just wish she were a little more… interesting? Entertaining? And when we went to Ireland a couple of years ago she was efficient and accurate. I’ve never had need to try her farther afield than that, I wonder if she’d have similar problems to your Emily…

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