Wednesday, September 26, 2012


In traffic-crazy Orange County last weekend, my friend John missed a freeway exit in our rental car.
He had been alerted by the robotic female voice on the GPS, but John had been engrossed in conversation with another passenger and failed to follow the clear instructions to exit right in “zero point five” miles.”

The screen immediately showed his error and a luminescent parade of green dashes scrolled across the small dash-mounted display.

Immediately our gizmo's monotone intoned “recalculating.”

John’s a management consultant who gives workshops in effective communication. He has also worked on Alternatives to Violence in California prisons. He’s accustomed to people not listening carefully enough, including himself.

“I love it,” he exclaimed as he listened for the revised directions to get us back to where we needed to be.

“If you mess up with this device, there’s no blaming or guilt tripping. The GPS simply does what it needs to do, RECALCULATING.”

“That’s exactly what we need to do, recalculate.”

We both thought of times when business or domestic conflict could have been resolved by simple recalculation.

Did you forget to pick up milk at the grocery? Recalculate and go to the corner store.
Guys, did you leave the toilet seat up? Recalculate. Apologize and promise to be more aware in the future.

Did you forget to put out the curb-side recycling?
Recalculate. Looks like a trip to the recycling center in a couple of days.

I’ve thought a bit more about recalculation since our California musings on this new technology-based metaphor.

It helps to recalculate together.  I can hear a new GPS command “mutually recalculating...”

The older I get the more recalculating I’m going to need. I’ve certainly needed to recalculate with the onset of hearing loss. Hearing aids help, but they don’t provide crystal-clear hearing. Recalculation means lip reading, patience, finding quiet places to talk, and sharing my hearing issues before engaging in conversation.

Glaucoma eye pressure-reducing drops and blood pressure medication are now part of my recalculated routine.

I know I’m going to face more recalculation with age. I’ll need to schedule more time for doing things. I’m sensing that I will be stereotyped as being “old.” How do I
recalculate for that?

I can see the changes will mean not only recalculating, but re-recalculating of earlier recalculations.

But, you know what? With recalculations, I’m going to gracefully get to where I’m meant to go.

All I ask is what the GPS lady asked for when we missed our exit. Be patient (this will take a second)...I’m recalculating.

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