Almost every single morning, I fire up my computer to see the release of some new study whose results could easily be summed up in one word: Really?
Thanks, University of Manitoba, for your study concluding that people who are bullied at work are more likely to quit their jobs. Really?
Michigan State University for their bombshell summation that many people, particularly men, do not wash their hands properly after using public restrooms. The next time any "scientists" in East Lansing, Mich., want to explore male behavior, shoot me an email and I will answer all your questions. Go Spartans!
The latest culprit in the "let's do a study to prove what we already know" category is Michelin, makers of tires but also of travel guides and road maps. Do you remember road maps? Those bulky pieces of paper that only the manufacturer could fold correctly? Growing up, no family vacation was complete without a U.S. atlas and a more detailed map of our eventual destination. While my dad drove, mom held each end of the unfolded map and squinted, eventually concluding that it would take 13 hours to arrive at Mount Rushmore. On the map, Mount Rushmore was approximately 2 inches from our starting point, but who was I to question her calculations? My sister and I sat silently in the backseat, under strict orders not to open any windows, since we all know what a sudden gust of wind can do to an open map.
Today, maps are being replaced by pleasant sounding female voices emanating from GPS systems, which instruct us to "Proceed to the highlighted route," "Bear left at the fork" and, my favorite, "Go straight." Incidentally, female will ALWAYS be the preferred gender of GPS voices; male voices would immediately suggest shortcuts, even if the alternate route means careening down an embankment or shooting the gap between side-by-side hurricanes.
Okay, back to Michelin. The company recently queried more than 2,200 adult drivers about the merits of a GPS system and found that nearly two-thirds had been led astray by their electronic navigational friends.
All together now: "REALLY?"
Had I known about this survey, I would have been more than happy to tell Michelin about the time I was looking for a golf course and my trusty GPS steered me to the front gates of a state mental hospital. Or, when trying to make it to a business meeting on Lily Avenue, I instead found myself pulling into the driveway of a single-family residence on Lily Lane. A barbecue was taking place, and I was tempted to ask for a bratwurst and some potato salad; one develops a powerful hunger when driving around aimlessly.
I have responded to my GPS with language one should never say to a female, real or electronic. I have called her names, muted her and even told her to, "Shut up, I'm trying to drive!" Yet, much like in a marriage, we always kiss and make up. The moment I purchased a GPS-enabled vehicle, I abandoned paper maps and have yet to look back. At this point, it would be like walking into a Verizon store and requesting a rotary-dial phone.
One "non-really" finding? Michelin concluded that GPS systems still rank second to printed materials, with 46 percent of drivers continuing to keep some sort of map in their glove boxes. My advice to Michelin is that it provide free maps to the 6 percent of drivers who, according to its study, still rely on verbal directions from strangers.
"Honey, let's ask this nice man holding the liquor bottle and the semi-automatic."
I'm sorry, Michelin. I'd love to support your printed map division, but technology - and my laziness - have intervened. So, I will continue my allegiance to Miss "whatever her name is," even if she occasionally sends me to Springfield, Mo., as opposed to Springfield, Illinois. Currently, she is helping me find the location of my daughter's soccer tournament.
"In a quarter mile, continue following the road."
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://amzn.to/schwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)
Greg Schwem: Is this Hollywood, California, or Hollywood, Florida?
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