Which way is up?

Picture this, we’re driving along and I’m winking away in the passenger seat as I give direction. Five years ago that would have been using the street directory, now it is Google maps on my iPad.

[There’s only one young whippersnapper who reads this blog, and even she’s not so young that she wouldn’t remember a street directory. (Sarah, you know what a Gregory’s is, right?)]

(As another aside, who shares my appreciation of the double brackets? I’ve always liked the double bracket with a curved and a square one. But then I do like punctuation.)

Anyway, back to maps. Imagine we’re driving along, me with my street directory in my hands. For very sound navigational reasons, I turn the map so it is always facing the way we are travelling.

Let me use the map below for illustrative purposes.


Imagine you are driving along Midson Road from the top of the map to the bottom, just crossing the intersection with Carlingford Road. Found it at the top of the map? OK, you want to turn left into Boronia. But Boronia is on the right of the map! Turning the map the way you are going avoids further complications between left and right.

Printed material is so much more compliant in being turned upside down or sideways. Bloody technology thinks it is compensating for that and turns the map with north at the top again! I mean who cares which way north is? No one says take the north-by-north-west exit. You say turn left, or sharp left or slightly left. OK, so I can swivel the actual map on my iPad to face the way I want but then I risk losing the place and I’m stressed enough as it is in this high-stakes game of giving directions.

The map in Mr S’s high-tech car computer system won’t be swivelled. Touch the screen and you disappear to some other place. Then you get yelled at, “What did you do?” And, “Will you just stop touching it.” (OK, I do tend to put the hazard lights on when using the car’s touch screen but really, what stupidly non-ergonomic designer puts the hazard lights switch right where you rest your hand while thinking! And makes it look like the CD ejection button. But that’s another story.)

Yes, I’m left-right challenged.

I hear you ask, why not just use the GPS navigational system. Well, while Mr S’s car has one AND he has a portable one, my car doesn’t have one. But the real reason is I don’t like them. Sometimes they give you the wrong directions, and sometimes, no often, I know better. “She wants us to go down that road! Is she mad? No one uses that road in peak hour.” Then you spend the next five minutes being told to do a U-turn. Just shut up! Or she recalculates and you miss a crucial turn that you think you should have taken.

And I hate how you only get bits of the map. I like to know where we’re heading, how the journey fits altogether, when a certain road that I may know or a big intersection is coming up. Much prefer maps.

Left and right confusion doesn’t mean I don’t know where I want to go!

So, does any one else turn the map to face the way they are travelling? Or has that died with GPS? Or did you never do it in the first place?


17 thoughts on “Which way is up?

  1. I have so much to say on this topic! Firstly being a QLDer they were known as ‘referdexes’ though moving into the company I’m in now, I learnt to call them ‘UBD’ and their map references are static, so we share the ‘map coordinates’ with other companies!!

    I have a stack of 4 Gregory’s (UBDs) at work – different years, from the times when our cars at work had them. Now, most staff use their phone – not the phone the company gave them, cause of course it would be far to far to give fully grown adults a phone with a map on it, no, they usually just use their person phones. So I’ve collected these old ‘map books’ as they are also called, cause I see a good crafty opportunity in them – at the very least, I could sell them to a crafty crafter… Ok maybe they are just clutter :s

    Anyhow, in the 5 or so years I’ve been with this company, I have been a map turner. We have plans on site, I also turn those. So it would seem do a fair proportion of gents I work with too, so there you go! Don’t feel bad.

    BTW I also hate GPS for the tiny window of where we are going, and no ‘general’ sense of where I’m near etc. That being said, with the UBDs being banished from the pool cars, and being in such a lofty position that the company has given me a smart phone, I settle for the GPS. But Google only, no Apple rubbish! Thankfully it silently ‘recalculates’ when I make my OWN mind up about how to get out of the nest of streets that is Chatswood!

    • I think keeping things for craft is an acceptable form of clutter for crafters! Trust the Queenslanders to come up wth s funny name.

      And I think you mean the ever hanging nest of streets that is Chatswood. All the development and road widening, seems that streets that were accessible aren’t and then next minute the way you took to compensate is closed and you take a third way and then go back to the original. And so on.

  2. Oh I love this topic! I can imagine you almost developing a tic with amount of winking – haha!

    When we moved to Sydney in 2010 I had such an intense love-hate-HATE affair with the GPS. It immediately dropped out in the CBD *every* time and many swear words were sworn in that 2 year period. It could not comprehend Sydney’s one-way streets and more swears were sweared.

    Finally, I resorted to the trusty ‘Sydway’ (never the Gregory’s – this is another key Melbourne vrs Sydney thing!) I still love my Sydway and sometimes just read it for the joy of maps and discovery. I don’t turn it sideways but my twin does!

    • The GPS never drops out for me in Sydney but I think I just know better sometimes. I was in there one evening recently going to a place I wasn’t sure of but I was the passenger and the driver, a work colleague, said not to worry about looking it up as he had GPS. Mmmmm. We would have had less trouble and taken fewer wrong turns if he’d let me guide by my internal ‘I kinda know where that is’ GPS. Told us too late to make some turns and to early on others so it was confusing when streets are so close.

      Your twin is sounding more like my kinda girl!

  3. Really, the only thing I like about GPSs is that YouTube where they try to get Darth Vader to do the voice recordings for TomTon. “Roundabound”!

    • Armstrong and Miller do a skit with a right-wing GPS who doesn’t like to turn left, and makes all manner of racist/fascist statements.

      I would doubly hate a Dath Vader voice if I had a GPS!

  4. Yep, I always turn the map so it’s going the same direction as I am (still doesn’t guarantee I’ll wind up where I want, but it’s a start). Even better than a map is getting directions from my dad. He gives me landmarks which I adore.

    Oh, and I love the double brackets! I got comments from my writing teachers all through school to stop using so many parentheses but they’re my favorite.

    • Go the parentheses!! Not enough of them in use anymore.

      And I too love directions with landmarks. Hate it when they cut down trees or change buildings and my directions don’t work anymore.

  5. Last year, we went on a Very Long Drive (4,000km return trip in a 1959 Plymouth) and while we generally relied on the GPS on our phones (too much metal in the car for an ordinary GPS to work, also they wont work if you hold them in your hand when they can’t get a signal because of the metal so bloody gps mutter grumble) and after we missed a turn because chatting, and had to backtrack the way the Not All That Shouty When You Drive A Noisy Car Lady on the phone insisted we go because we were quite misplaced – a road that was not conducive to driving a slightly lowered slightly hot car with slightly inappropriate wheels and tyres for the nature of the roads we found ourselves on, we resorted to a 1959 stylie GPS – Yep, folding maps! We had one for NSW and one for QLD and we figured we sort of knew our way around Victoria well enough for those parts. Plus, we had an ancient Melway for the country bits, so we were pretty cool. We got a little bit lost in Newcastle (that wasn’t my fault, someone wasn’t listening) and in Canberra, but only because that town is WEIRD.

    Now, if I *must* drive anywhere (I can get a long way by public transport), or usually be navigator (fraught because of the whole can’t tell left from right thing), I look at the map on the computer, find landmarks (love google maps!) and write them on the printed off sheet. So, I know I have to turn at the service station or whatever and I just read the instructions off the list!

    • Mr Sans’ GPS wanted him to take a My God We Can’t Take That Road road too. What was she thinking? And she too kept trying to tell us to turn around. Until she got frustrated with us and shut up.

      Funnily enough, the Nav system on my phone is a little bit bossy and very direct in her speech. No softening of her directions. Almost a Turn Bloody Left NOW. Funny, because I am know to be a little bossy. No one is at all surprised to hear the tone of my phone’s GPS.

  6. My husband also turns the map to point in the direction he is going. I find that very confusing!
    After a few years of using different maps and a few years of using an in-car navigation system, we now just use our mobile phones.
    I feel everyone’s pain about the GPS dropping out in the city in Sydney. We’ve managed to get around that by having a few trips to Sydney where we’ve stayed in the City and walked and walked and walked around. We can now find our way around the city without assistance!

    • If you told me not to turn the map I will definitely get us lost! And arguing.

      I find walking around a place the best way to get the layout and find your way because you have time to actually see things!

  7. I’ve never used a GPS. From what others tell me, different brands of GPS come with better or worse mapping and updates. Big cities and populated areas of the world are well-represented and updated often, while smaller and rural areas can be notoriously inaccurate. I am always hearing about drivers being told to make U-turns or cross harbours where there us no bridge! In an ideal world, I plan my travel route both ways before I depart, or at least that’s what I do in areas that are completely unknown to me. Otherwise, I use print maps or street directories, and turn them as needed – we’ll see when I take the plunge into the modern world (or nearest harbour, as the case may be!)

    • I’m a pre-planner too. Well, I try to be. When life is too busy I don’t have time, and then I feel extra stressed about travelling into the unknown. And a Sat Nav in car system doesn’t help my stress. Cause then I worry if the system actually knows the place or is going the right way. Which is why I don’t mind maps on my iPad. Then I can see it is right.

  8. I am the only person in the known universe without internet on my phone. I rely on paper maps. I turn them upside down. I still get lost. I solve this problem by living in a small city and never going anywhere new!!

    • You have amazing problem solving skills, Jo. Lateral and divergent thinking!

      I wish I hadn’t dropped my old brick! And that my iPad wasn’t now a dud and that Apple will no longer make iPods (mine has died). I think I am being out manouvered and will have to get an iPhone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s