Opinion

Get lost–aka turn location services on

LightsMy phone was confused. It was supposed to be my lifeline, but here, in the middle of Chicago, if felt just like the 80’s—as if I was dropped out of the sky into downtown and had to figure out which direction Navy Pier was without benefit of a working cell phone.

It’s a cell phone, too. Not a smart phone, because if it truly was, it wouldn’t have me (unknowingly) walking in the opposite direction of Navy Pier.

What’s a guy to do?

I looked around and reminded myself that it was indeed 2016 and not the 80’s. Most everyone was holding a smart phone or cell phone and had it up near their face.

I figured most people are nearsighted as they had their phones practically touching their faces. Millions of people were walking around Chicago with their cell phones smack right in front of their faces. None of them had selfie sticks or else if they did they weren’t using them. One guy like me was holding his phone at arm’s length, announcing he was farsighted.

I don’t do that as I have my glasses on when I’m walking down the street trying to figure out where I’m going by using my phone.

When I have location services on, it slows down my phone markedly. Especially when I try to multi-task on it and it’s near 100 degrees outside. My phone runs poorly when it’s hot and when it’s using location services.

It’s kind of ironic it’s called location services. It should be called “slow-your-phone-to-a-crawl” service. Texting becomes a chore when location services are on. I really am a one-handed texter as only one of my thumbs has any dexterity or (onscreen?) touch capability. Get it?

It kind of sucks that everyone texts instead of speaking on the phone, too, because of this.

I can’t get anyone to call me nor does anyone pick up when I call them. They only communicate by text. So, when location services are on is the only time when my one handed texting speeds are actually all of the speed the phone can handle—another irony not lost upon me.

I think back to the 80’s and begin admiring a couple of buses making turns in opposite directions at a four way intersection. It’s pretty cool. Bus drivers were skilled technicians even back in the 80’s, when they had no GPS to help them not be lost in case they ever were. Back then, it was just muscles, blood, guts and luck. There were no cell phones or smart phones that became slow and unusable.

But the bus drivers made the turns after waiting for people to cross the street in front of them. I thought for sure they’d clip a parked car or two, but it never happened. I think all of the buses being air conditioned nowadays help keep both drivers and passengers cool. Not every bus had A/C back in the early 80’s.

Back in the 80’s summer in the city meant the back of your neck getting dirty and gritty–inside or out of a bus.

I took a sharp right thinking my phone was trying to tell me something, but it was just paralyzed with fear—the fear of an electronic device that has (temporarily?) frozen. I didn’t know if it would suddenly catch up or not with all the commands that were gridlocking it for the last ten excruciating minutes.

I thought about what I could do and became irritated. I looked around and everyone was still walking with their phones plastered to their faces. How odd that always looks to me.

I took another turn, down another street, this time left, thinking maybe a lefty would ease my pain and be just the thing I was looking for. But no, this was not a good move, either.

Finally, I stopped at a street crossing staring at the orange hand sign indicating I should not cross the street at this time.

There were no longer embarrassingly sizable crowds at street intersections so I thought I would muster up the nerve.

“Hey man, which way is Navy Pier?”

A wireless walky talky thingy dingy.

A wireless walky talky thingy dingy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He pointed in back of my head.

“You’re going the wrong way. It’s that way—up a ways.”

I thanked him and I started walking. I began whistling Journey’s “Lights,” as my phone home screen confirmed location services confirmed Navy Pier was 22 minutes straight ahead.

Technology is great when it works. But when all else fails, or even if it doesn’t, you can always initiate an exchange of words, a conversation, with a fellow human being. And as silly and unmodern as that might sound, it could end up being rather productive for you too.

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