12 Angry Vultures

About 2 months ago I bought a TomTom to help me find my way around Austin during my business travels.  It was a great device for that first week, however after waking up on the first Friday morning, my TomTom was a brick.    Needless to say, I was not amused.  I was faced with the possibility of not knowing where in the hell I was going, on the day I was supposed to be driving home.

So, I printed out directions to the nearest Wal Mart, and approached the service desk to get some help.  I was told that I would not be able to exchange it without a receipt.  I explained that my receipt was 5 hours away sitting in my bedroom.  I went on to explain that since I didn’t know where to go, my only option would be to follow the lady at the service desk around until I could figure out how to find my way home.  After some sweet talking (or threatening to stalk her…matter of perspective) she relented and allowed me to swap even steven for another TomTom.

JOY!  I was able to make it home, and all was well….until the following Thursday.  While driving back to my hotel after work, TomTom decided to start stuttering, then froze.  Once again, my TomTom was a brick.  Wal Mart was not as easy to sweet talk this time, and even if they were I had no interest in another TomTom.  It was like having Rex Grossman at quarterback….great when things worked as planned, but just when you depend on him he lets you down in the worst way.  So I made the switch to Garmin.  A few weeks have gone by, and I could not be happier.

One feature that Garmin has that TomTom didn’t was a far, far superior traffic awareness.  TomTom would lead me directly into the snarls of the worst rush hour, while Garmin thoughtfully will drive me 10 miles out of my way to avoid that 45 minute back up between downtown San Antonio and Shertz on I-35.  Which is exactly what it did yesterday, like a boss.

I t took me through a back road that led me to another back  road.  Eventually, I was instructed to turn left onto this barely paved, 3″ wide street called “Shortcut Road”.  Let me tell you, Shortcut Road does not do this road justice.  Seriously.  I can’t believe that someone actually paved it to begin with, despite that it was obviously done near the end of the Roman era.  I think I hit a cow on that road, but it was standing in a pot hole so it was just a glancing blow.  I kid you not, and in all seriousness, there was a tree about 2 feet off the side of the road that had about a dozen large vultures in it.  Dead tree, 12 vultures….I thought for sure I had stumbled into a Kafka inspired John Grishom novel.    Beneath the tree was a large, dead, bloated cow.  Their obvious meal, I guess.

As my trip to my friends house was nearing its conclusion, Garmin attempted to lead me across the Faust Street Bridge.  I pulled onto the street where the bridge was located, and noticed that there were posts blocking access.  To my right was an off duty Marine unloading his car.  I decided to ask him about the bridge, and he stated, “Man, that bridge has been closed for over 10 years.  It is 130 years old and made out of wood.  You don’t want to drive your truck on there”.  So I explained, “Someone should let Garmin know about that”, to which he responded, “Is that why?  Man, I get 2 people a week trying to drive across that bridge.  I just thought it was a bunch of people who used to live here”, and then he laughed.

I guess my lesson is two fold.  First, not to always trust Garmin (and NEVER trust TomTom, because he won’t even show up for work).  Second, if Garmin is taking you down a road with 12 vultures watching you from a tree, it might just be foreshadowing.  Watch out….it may be trying to run you off of an antique, rickety, old wooden bridge.


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