BLOG WITH SIMON: Roads to Nowhere

Someone asked me recently if it’s possible to travel anywhere these days without a GPS.

My answer is yes – around the bend.

I say that having just negotiated Friday afternoon peak-hour Sydney traffic with nothing but a teenage passenger armed with handwritten notes and a 25-year-old Gregory’s.

Talk about emotional wreck. Not the teen – they’re unflappable.

Me.

And the reason is – and I’ve said it before – Sydney traffic sucks. Consistently!

But it reaches its zenith of suckery at the setting of the sun ... lest we forget.

And in the morning we should remember them too – they’re probably still stuck in traffic.

How or why Sydney people put up with it I’ll never understand.

They must love misery.

Anyhow, we interrupt the regional parochialism to get back on message.

The task was straightforward.

We had to be at “A” in Sydney at 2.30 Friday afternoon, and “B” three hours later.

That’d be 5.30pm.

The ultimate urban transit witching hour.

“A” was located somewhere near Seven Hills, which is most certainly the industrial anus of the digestive tract that is Sydney.

“B” was 30kilometres across town on the northern beaches.

A place you might tag ‘‘the nipple’’ if you wanted to get cheeky.

I’m going with ‘‘haemorrhoid’’.

In between was a succession of unfamiliar motorways, tunnels, highways and dead-ends which make up what I now know as the leafy ‘‘north [not so] shore’’.

All up, the prospect of making this journey at this time on this day, with or without a GPS, was up there with bleeding to death.

Being a non-GPS guy, I’d scribbled directions off the computer before we left.

The plan was to interpret them ‘‘live’’ on the road as went.

An old-school approach perhaps, but with only 43 checkpoints to get right – what could go wrong?

Besides, we had the ancient Gregory’s.

I’m told with a GPS you input the 43 checkpoints into the computer and it does the rest.

I’m also told you can give your GPS a name and select a voice style like “sexy” or “calm” in which it talks.

One person I know has a disturbingly pal-sy relationship with “Carol”, who lives in her dashboard.

Weird.

Got me thinking, after our trip, if I had a GPS its name would rhyme with ‘‘truck’’ and the nominated voice would be ‘‘hysterical’’.

It got that way a bit.

The reason being, even though I didn’t have a GPS, technology kept impacting.

My electronic e-tag enabled the government to take its toll as I blundered up and down its M2 or M7 or whatever ‘‘M’’ I was on.

Miss those ramps and you suffer an M-bolism.

I should have topped up my demerit points because every second signpost seemed to be a speed camera.

Lane Cove tunnel was a veritable photo shoot.

And to top it off, just as we were reaching various critical turn-offs, the mobile phone kept ringing.

Where are we?

We’re in freaking hell.

As in, “freaking hell, was that the turn-off? Not now, Beryl.”

And what about the roadworks on the M2?

I paid my money.

I’m not sure how much – that’ll be on the e-toll statement – but I didn’t expect gridlock.

I got that three hours later on the Pacific Highway, for free.

Barry O’Farrell, you owe me big time.

I now live in fear of the postie who will surely one day deliver a phalanx of speeding tickets, toll violations and licence cancellations to my doorstep.

Has the GPS transformed your travelling life?

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