Monday, April 30, 2012

My Driving Buddy

This is the season.  Winter gray is replaced by the color of spring and the blank spots on my schedule are filled with more and more end of the semester, as well as end of the academic year, activities.  Plus my school board activities also escalate as the Board works to provide a clear understanding of the proposed budget before the community votes and hopefully approves the budget.

Don’t misunderstand my feelings about this time of year.  I enjoy the added contact with students and faculty, and I also enjoy the opportunity to meet more people in the community I live in, as we explain educational and economic ramifications of the budget. And I never mind the associated driving, except to areas I was unfamiliar with and especially after sundown.  In those occasions, especially when driving to a private house in the suburbs, I had found in the past that my stress level increased.  Street signs were often hard to read after sunset, and house numbers were even more problematic. To compensate for and in fact reduce the stress level, I left earlier to get to wherever I was going, often not a great use of scarce time, especially when it turned out that I had no trouble finding where I was going. The best example of my building in extra time was my first job interview at Hofstra.  Though I lived and grew up close by in Manhattan, I had only been on Long Island five times in my life when I applied for the position at Hofstra.  I also was not a seasoned driver, though we did have a family car at that time.  My interview at Hofstra was at 2 PM; I left Manhattan at 9 AM and arrived on campus by 10 AM.  I really got to know the campus well before my interview.

My wife has a great sense of direction.  She can remember the directions to a place she had visited a decade earlier; she can read a map like a pro; and she can inevitably find whatever place she is looking for.  I, on other hand have the “passion for chocolate” gene but not the “sense of direction” gene.  Though AAA and MapQuest were my best friends, I had made more than my share of wrong turns.  But not anymore.

I no longer leave early. I no longer request a AAA Triptick or print out MapQuest directions. I also volunteer to drive more often, even when I am sure I could travel along with colleagues going to the same event.  And I no longer worry. I will be there, wherever there is.  The reason, very simply, is the navigation system in my car.  There is no question that cars today are very different than previous cars and the standard features and options create a very different environment. Power this and automatic that and great sound systems are wonderful but in no way essential.  But the navigation system for me is clearly where the rubber meets the road.  I am a happier, more involved and more efficient person as a result of GPS.  And now the system even tells me where I will encounter traffic jams on major roads. 

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