WSN: Guest Column by Terry Rempel

My previous job was as a pedigreed seed inspection manager for a company in Winnipeg. Based in Winnipeg, I had about 35 seed inspectors under my direction from Manitoba through to northern Alberta. Part of my duties was to train the inspectors both with updated information in a classroom setting as well as observe and assist new inspectors in the field. So, a couple of times a year, I got to drive across western Canada, crisscrossing each province. I had an app on my cell phone to locate the field where I was to meet the inspector. I would load in the LLD (legal land description) of the said field on to the app and it would then load the correct coordinates (most of the time) into Google Maps. Press “Directions”, and it would then produce a map of how you should get to that field. A lovely voice would come on to help you with the directions. Ever wonder why they have a feminine voice giving those directions? Think about that. Must have been a room full of programmers thinking “Yeah, lets make it a woman’s voice giving the directions” and all the women in the room would go “Let me do it”. What woman wouldn’t want to tell millions of men where to go? It would also get many men taking wrong turns because they think they know better and they kind of weren’t paying attention to the woman’s voice anyway. This app and GPS map system brought me to many a field in nowhere Saskatchewan (it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there). There were a few times, though, you’d be driving along, go over a ridge and on the other side, and….no signal. The route would disappear from sight. I’d stop….look around (no clue where I was)…drive a little farther….still no signal. Turn around, go back to where there was a signal, save the map, then figure it out from there.

Last week I was in southern Ontario meeting with customers. Using GPS, I found their locations usually without a problem. The problem would come when I’d load the new address on the phone and it would say “Head North for 5 kilometers.” It had been cloudy since I got there, not even a hint as to where the sun was. Now, I’m usually pretty good with which way is north, south, etc., but, in a strange area, with no land marks that you are familiar with and no sun to give you a shadow of where north is, I was lost. (Yes, there is a compass somewhere on the dash of this car, but I didn’t think of that). So I start off going one way…..”Re-routing”. You can almost hear an irritated sigh coming from Ms. Google Maps (like I haven’t heard that in real life before). Most of the time I could make a U-turn and get going the right way, and as long as I listened to her (yes ma’am), I’d get to my destination. The real aggravation came when I was in Toronto to return the car to the airport. I got to the airport (so I knew where I was supposed to be), then I needed to fill the rental car with gas. Look for the closest gas station on Google Maps and away we go. When you hear “Re-routing” in Toronto and it’s leading you to the freeway, you know you took a wrong turn. I was getting further and further away from the airport, following these prompts, and I was getting quite ticked. Why are you taking me this far away from the airport!!! Surely there is a gas station closer! (Again you can hear the irritated sigh from Ms. Google). But I kept following her prompts and eventually ended up right back where I started. Now I’m really ticked because it’s telling me to turn right again and that’s what got me in trouble in the first place! Then, right across the street on the corner, was the gas station I missed the first time around. “Turn right….your destination is on the right (you idiot…I’m sure she meant)”.

April 5th of this year, I was re-routed. While the end destination has always been the same for both Lorna and me, the route to get there went blank. Lorna was there….at home. My route had further to go. GPS shows you the way it knows to get to your destination, but sometimes that road doesn’t exist any more, or becomes a very narrow, bumpy path. It’s been washed out, under construction, or the map needs to be updated because that road has been changed. The route Lorna and I were on together vanished in my arms that morning. I know I’m supposed to keep going….I’m just not getting the signal yet. I’m down in a valley, waiting to come through the other side so I can regain the GPS (God’s Positioning System). It’s not that the signal isn’t there, that hasn’t changed, I’m just having a hard time finding it. His system knew I’d have to go this way, even though He didn’t put the roadblocks in. It’s a slow, winding, bumpy trail for the time being….one I never wanted to go on or thought I’d be on. The bumps and rocks I’m hitting on this road will be marks on me for the rest of my journey and I know the scratches will fade in time but will never go away….and I don’t want them to. I know that when I don’t know which way to turn, just look for the Son and it will get me started in the right direction. The destination hasn’t changed… route has.

“Your destination is straight ahead.”


You can write Terry via Messenger

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