I Can't Abide By The Google

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: Start your story with someone trying to read a map.... view prompt

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Contemporary Funny Friendship

I was kind of dreading this trip. But it was a comment I’d suggested in a casual conversation, and then my grandma seized on it, remembered me saying it, and here we were now, doing it.

Sitting in my Honda in her driveway listening to a podcast, I waited for Grandma. Finally, the door to her house swung open and my five-foot-tall granny and her three large bags emerged. She marched over to my open window and swung a large, heavy book at me.

           “Here, Jenny. Got you something we need. All the updates. No need to thank me now. Just give me a hand with my luggage.”

           I glanced at the cover. Rand McNally 2021 Road Atlas of the United States? What the hell was this? I got out of the car, loaded Grandma’s multiple bags next to my single backpack, returned to the driver’s seat, and started the ignition.

           “Now where do you think you’re going? Just heading out all willy-nilly?” She picked up the atlas from the floor of the Accord. “I can’t abide by the Google. Don’t believe in it. We got the maps right here. Maps of every state and road we’re gonna be driving on or crossing over.”

           I turned off my ignition, closed my eyes, held my breath, and then spoke slowly. “If I’m driving, how can I be looking down at some tiny road on a map. It’s much easier if I listen to someone with eyes-in-the-sky looking down, calmly telling when to turn left, right or exit. I’ve driven all over the country with GPS. It’s like the perfect benevolent overlord.”

           “No, they redirect you, get you lost. My friend, Sarah, almost drove off a bridge listening to that crap. I don’t want to hear any more about it.” She thumped her big book of maps. “Now, I’ll navigate. You drive. Teamwork. It’ll be fun!”

           “No offense, Grandma, but your eye sight isn’t the greatest.”

           “That’s why I brought this.” She pulled a large magnifying glass out of her deep-dive kitchen-sink handbag. “Now, first we gotta get out of Texas. Let’s see. T, T, T.” She was thumbing through the entire book looking for a Texas map.

           “I’m sure it’s alphabetical. Let me find it for you, Grandma.” I flipped through quickly finding Texas, with a smaller Dallas map in the corner. “Here we go.”

           “See, we got the team-work thing going already.” She then pulled out a Sharpie and begin marking our route to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I sighed, rolling my eyes. This was going be one long trip. “Looks like I-20 is gonna be the best route by my calculation. Now, Jenny, do you know how to get from here to I-20, going east? We can look that up too.”

           “I do, Grandma.”

           “Well, what are we waiting for? Oh, I brought snacks, if you get hungry.”

           My Grandparents had honeymooned at Myrtle beach in 1965. She hadn’t been there since, but in her mind, it was the best place on earth. Months ago, she had excitedly told me all about their romantic get-away, with wide sunny beaches, colorful miniature golf courses, pancake houses in abundance, and Christmas stores open year-round. I mentioned that I’d never been to the beaches in South Carolina and I’d like to go sometime. At that point, she must have begun plotting our grand adventure.

           As we approached the Louisiana border, she began rifling through her maps again. “Uh-huh, this is it. Yup. Jenny… Jen, dear. It’s been a while now. I say we take a break, see the sights, visit a restroom.”

           “Sure, there’s a truck stop coming up. I can see the sign from here.”

           “Not here, hon. Bossier City. Now, in Louisiana, they got the casinos. I say we stop in there, roll the dice, and see what we come up with. What do you say?”

           “I say no. We’re barely out of Texas. I have no desire to visit some smoke-filled casino with people sitting in the dark pushing buttons, waiting for a motherload of coins to come raining down. It’s depressing.”

           “That’s not depressing. It’s exciting! And we’re almost there. Be a shame to pass right by. I think they got entertainment too. I’ll direct your route.” Out came the magnifying glass. “Take the third exit after this. It’ll take you right into town.”

           “One hour, Grandma. I’m setting my watch alarm. And keep in mind, chief navigators are not allowed to drink while on the job.”

           She ignored that comment and directed me to the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City. Obviously, she’d been conducting some undercover scouting.

 “My friend, Sarah, the one that almost drove off a bridge due to the Google…well, she says, Horseshoe has the loosest slots and biggest jackpots.”

           I laughed. “Maybe the biggest losers and loosest sluts. But then…if Sarah told you, it certainly must be true.” I pulled into a massive parking lot. “Feeling lucky, Grandma?”

           Two plastic bags of nickels and one Singapore-Sling later, we were back on I-20, roaring down the highway listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a special request to iTunes from Grandma. After a few songs, she began flipping her Rand McNally pages again, making me nervous.

           “Jackson, Mississippi.”

           “What about it, Grandma?”

           “They got a fortune teller there that’ll knock your socks off and some pretty good Bar-B-Q.”

           I glanced down at her Mississippi map, “But if we push through, I can easily make it to…Meridian, along the state line.” I pointed to the further border town.

           “Eyes on the road missy. Jen, it’s not about pushing through. We’ll eventually get to Myrtle Beach, don’t you worry.”

           After checking in to the Jackson Mississippi Day’s Inn, we made an evening appointment with the All-Knowing Alma, recommended by Barbara in bridge club. Alma gave me the promise of safe travels and an upcoming weekend romance. Surprising news to my husband, when I called to update him later that night. Grandma was told that good luck was shadowing her and to keep her eyes open for golden opportunities.

The following morning, I got the six AM nudge, and the announcement that we were getting up early to walk the historic Jackson Civil Rights Freedom Trail before we left. The what? I rolled out of bed. I needed the exercise anyway.

           As we neared the Alabama border we encountered a huge slowdown, probably construction, which I could have verified and possibly avoided had I been using my GPS. As we inched along, I was getting impatient, muttering to every car that was creeping past me.

           “Hold on Jen, get in your exit lane, coming up in half a mile or so. Yup, just exit there and jump on the 80. Found us a new route here, and some cute, tiny towns to pass through. Should be fun.”

           “Sounds like a blast,” I said. Surprisingly, getting off I-20 turned out to be a good move, and had us skimming through traffic in no time. Grandma was becoming a whiz on the iTunes, punching in all her favorites and some requests from me. “Amazing stuff here, Jenny. Any song I want with the touch of my fingertips.”

           “And ten dollars a month.”

           On the Georgia border, we plowed into Columbus, tired. Grandma had no girl-friend recommendations here, but checking my phone, I found they had a great hike and bike trail along Chattahoochee River. A lovely way to stretch our legs after a long day in the car.

           The next morning after a malted waffle and orange juice, I let Grandma go free-style with her maps and she Sharpied her way over to Savannah, near the Atlantic coast. It was only mid-day, but the sky was a perfect blue with the temps just right. There were rows of restaurants dangling seafood menus and colorful shops with awnings and enticing picture windows. We had to venture forth. Inside a souvenir shop we jumped into an old-school photo booth. Grandma bought tiny seashell frames for the photos and added our portrait collection to the bottom her monster handbag.

           Heading out the next morning, Grandma asked, “Jen, I was thinking we’d take the scenic roads to Myrtle Beach. It’s the one your grandpa and I took. I always called it the honeymoon route. I have it all scoped out.”

           “Why not? A few extra hours don’t really matter. You call out the roads and I’ll turn the wheel. What do you have planned for us in Myrtle Beach?”

           “Got some ideas in mind. But you’ll like em. Eyes on the road, Jenny.”

           “How about this last leg, you tell me all about Grandpa? How you met, what he looked like then. Your favorite memories…”

           “Oh gosh. Where do I start?”

           “Looks like we have about five hours. Start at the beginning, Grandma.”


December 17, 2021 20:25

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1 comment

Kevin Broccoli
17:28 Dec 24, 2021

I felt like this was the build-up to a much bigger story, which I know is sort of the point. It would be interesting to hear more about where this was ultimately headed.


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