Recalculatin’




I long for a “New Hampsha” voice to guide me — even if it’s ornery.

When my brother-in-law gave me a GPS last Christmas, I received a sense of direction. With the trusty silver rectangle mounted in my car, I no longer have to add an hour of driving time from Portsmouth to each intended destination. I no longer drive “via,” like the time I drove to Boscawen (unintentionally) via Vermont, or Seabrook (accidentally) via Massachusetts. The navigational device freed the inner adventurer held hostage by my missing internal compass. The open road beckoned.

Not only can I now drive without a “you wouldn’t believe how lost I was” tale, I can select a voice to direct me. I chose the bloke with the Australian accent first. Though dreamy, his laconic drawl took a bit too long for timely guidance.

“Tuuuurn leeeeeft” he’d say as I passed the turn. Again. We’d meander for hours, circling the exits, traveling the turnpikes in figure eights of off-ramps and reversed directions. As much as I enjoyed his deep intriguing voice, the long Aussie vowels were disorienting me more than if I were driving solo. I said G’day to my companion from Down Under and moved on to another voice.

I christened the English accent Nigel. His clipped efficiency steered me straight for weeks. I enjoyed Nigel’s crisp tone and the way he alerted me to a “roundabout” ahead. He maintained a stiff upper lip when I entered exits and drove on off-ramps, though I soon sensed his irritation when he’d repeatedly chide, “recalculating.” I could almost see him rolling his eyes at me. Condescending and snide my Nigel had become.

None of the other voice options seemed to satisfy me. I realized I longed for a “New Hampsha” voice to guide me, a voice I’d call Margie (pronounced Maah-jee). Instead of intoning “recalculating” when I took a wrong turn, Margie would say,

“Now why’d you go and do that foah?” She’d crack, “If ya quit yer daydreamin’, I wouldn’t be recalculatin’. Takin’ 93 south to get to Dixville Notch? Huh. Now that’s different.”

In true New Hampshire fashion, Margie wouldn’t pry. If I wanted to take the wrong exit to work, that was my prerogative.

She’d merely hint “bad idear, deah” when I started to veer the incorrect way.

Additionally, she’d only give partial clues. “Turn up heah.”

“Left or right?” I’d ask in a panic.

“Well, that’s yoah business.”

Sometimes Margie would act downright ornery. “Well, that road don’t go nowhere, deah. It stays heah yeah round.”

At times my complete inability to arrive at apparently straightforward destinations would appall no-nonsense Margie. She’d growl, “If you don’t know how to get home you have no business leavin’.”

But being Margie, she would also see the benefits, the serendipity in my directionally challenged induced spontaneity. At times she’d remain silent as I took 95 South instead of the Spaulding Turnpike to get to Dover and end up in Exeter, where I would stare in silent wonder at the gorgeous holiday decorations I never would have seen if she’d kept me on course. So many beautiful New Hampshire spots await my inadvertent stopover, and Margie knows them all.

Sometimes it isn’t the road less traveled as much as the road unintentionally traveled that supplies wondrous benefits. NH

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