Amy and I were trying to drive from the SE 14th and Indianola Ave Mister Car Wash in Des Moines to Burlington Coat Factory. (Poppa needs new shoes.) We turned right onto Indianola Ave. A second later, our Dodge Journey’s GPS (aka Gupus) said to turn left. We crossed SE 14th. A second later, Gupus said to turn left on SE 14th.

Too late, Gupus. You need some help. You need a software update.

Gupus doesn’t retain anything we shout at her. I don’t mean Gupus opens a hole in the side of her head and pours out ones and zeroes like castoff parts from a typewriter factory. I mean Gupus’ knowledge has finite value. Wait too long for an update, and all Gupus’ files are so much digital detritus, existing and stuck in place long after their usefulness has expired, like Family Video.

What is too long? How many changes must happen before data in the database grow rust? When is it advisable to find a shorter route instead of meandering through a cornfield or two?

The answer obviously depends on how hungry you are, how late you are to your own wedding, or how many parishioners you’ve left stranded in your sanctuary, happily watching the Reverend Lovejoy while they await the Word of God from a man who can’t find Target across town, let alone the key to eternal life.

Let’s start with the first question: how long is too long? The first Gupus was invented in the 1960s by scientists wanting to track satellite movement. Civilization’s written records go back to the time of Sumerian cuneiform script, around 2,600 B.C. That means the first Gupus-aided trip took over 4,500 years, give or take a decade or generation.

That is too long.

Forget fashion being out of style by the time you arrive. The whole planet might have changed its axis and see you driving into a tree instead of through a hollowed out one.

But things quickly improved. Gupus put in long hours studying, raised her marks, and got the attention of entrepreneurs who wanted to use her for a quickie drive-by. Fast forward 60 years, and you’ve got modern Gupus. Backtrack a bit, and you’ve got my Gupus, and she’s taking too long to perform her duties.

I benefit from not being one of Gupus’ pioneering scientists. I need only navigate to the Garmin website to download the latest update, and I am assured of Gupus taking me home to Carlisle, IA, not Carlisle, TX. (Give me your steaks. Keep your hats.)  

At the website, I see these instructions:    . You may be wondering, Is that a blank space typo? It is a blank space, but it is not a typo. I see nothing on Garmin’s website about updating my Gupus. I see advertisements for colorful watches and other wearables, and products that affix to airplanes, boats, and cars, but it seems my Gupus has missed the cut for inclusion in the modern and profitable business model.

How can this be? I think. My Gupus is only three years old. How can it already be side-of-the-highway trash, condemned to stowaway in my dashboard forever with no hope of removal, like the remains of fast food accidentally kicked underneath the seats?

Answer: it’s not, but its fate rests in my hands. I need to be more specific in my research. What a strange turn of events, I think. I was depending on Gupus, and now Gupus is depending on me. I pause to think, then, Gupus, are you my mother?

The psychological implications of Gupus’ claim on my parentage can wait for another day and a not-yet-scheduled therapy session. For now, I search “updating Garmin GPS in 2018 Dodge Journey.”

Everything I need is at the top of the search results. I need only acquire a USB drive, pay a nominal fee, download the latest digital overlays (which, presumably, will tell me to turn left on East 14th before I get to East 14th), transfer these overlays to Gupus, and hear her breathe a sigh of relief in her sexy British voice.

(Not sure if it’s Elizabeth Hurley, but we just watched Austin Powers with the kids, so I’m satisfied with this fantasy conclusion.)

I can do this for Gupus. I think I will.

I need left turns in my life.

To Burlington Coat Factory.