No Saguaro

No Saguaro

January 13, 2013

What Part Of "You're Lost" Do You Not Understand?

Happy New Year!  The non-MSM punditocracy predicts that 2013 will be a year so full of turmoil that the best that the majority of us can hope for is mediocrity, if we’re lucky (and I happen to heartily agree with this prediction).  However, I feel a certain amount of relief in knowing that I live in a city where complete economic collapse will not add any stupidity to the general population, only amplify that which is already long entrenched.  Knowing what to expect and having some idea of how to deal with it is winning half the battle.  But I digress.  Now on to the subject of this rant’s title.

I live out in what can only be called “the boonies.”  While still technically within Tucson’s city limits, it’s an unincorporated part of Pima County with many unpaved roads and roads that dead end at certain points.  Apparently when they set up their map databases, the GPS manufacturers (TomTom, Garmin, et al.) neglected to vet the accuracy of their mappings for certain localities.   This has led to a great deal of unwanted automobile traffic through both my and my neighbors’ properties over the last year, especially on the easement road on one side of my property that leads to my neighbors’ properties.  The situation has become so bad lately that one of my neighbors has erected a gate across the dirt road on one end of his property (a road that is not designated as an easement, despite what lost motorists seem to believe) and has actually put up a barricade in front of his driveway because so many “lost souls” have been turning around in it, tearing up his landscaping and even trying to drive across his property in search of a non-existent through street.

My neighbors and I (proud non-native Tucsonans, all of us) have tried to alleviate the situation by putting up signs at the entrance to the easement road, signs that even dyslexic first graders should be able to comprehend.  I’m talking about signs that read NO OUTLET, PRIVATE DRIVEWAY, NOT A THROUGH STREET, PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING, etc.  This doesn’t even take into consideration the bright yellow NO OUTLET sign that is mounted on the sign for our street at the main intersection up the road.  Now one would think that even the densest person to be issued a drivers license by the state of Arizona would “get it” at this point and turn around, or at least recheck their directions before proceeding any further.  But no, not TT drivers.

I have stood at my living room window or outside in my yard and actually watched these cerebral titans slowly inch their way down the easement road, right past the signs in big letters that tell them in no uncertain terms that they are not where they are supposed to be.  Once they reach the end of the easement road and suddenly realize that “hmmm, there don’t seem to be no through street back here, Hoss,” panic sets in.  You see, their GPS has told them that there is, beyond any doubt, a through street back here that will take them where they need to get to, so, by golly, it just has to be here somewhere.  After all, technology is never, ever wrong.  Except when it is.

You see, TTs, even more so than people in other parts of the country, absolutely depend on the technology that it took them forever to comprehend and use to think for them.  Because thinking is painful and requires effort and energy, and now that there are machines to do much of it for them, they refuse to put any additional stress on the atrophied little gray thing between their ears.  As far as these lost road mariners are concerned, that means that the idea that their GPS could have given them a bum steer is simply unthinkable.  To admit that their navigational technology is imperfect would mean that they would still have to do some residual thinking for themselves, some actual planning, research, and exploration without electronic hand-holding.  Such a thing is unthinkable.  This is the point at which the arguments inevitably start.

I have actually approached several of these lost souls, seconds before they were about to turn my neighbors’ yards or my yard into a disaster zone, asking them “are you looking for an address?”  Almost invariably, it’s an address either on the other side of the main road leading into our neighborhood, on a street that shares the same name as ours, but is not connected directly with it, or an address on a street that TomTom, Garmin, et al. insist can be reached from our street, but can’t.   When I tell these folks that they’ll have to back up, go back down the street, and either go an additional quarter mile down the road to another cross street, they act as if I’ve just given them directions to Central Siberia. 

“But, my GPS says this is a through street!”

“What do you see in front of your own two eyes as evidence that such an assumption is correct?”

“But my GPS says…!”

And so it goes.  Eventually they back up (I refuse to allow them to turn around in my driveway or on my easement road, as it would mean driving on my yard) and lumber on back down the street, maybe a few of them reaching their destinations.  Frankly, I don’t give a rat fuck.  Just as long as they’re GONE and off of my property.

It has reached the point where I keep my holstered pistol at arm’s reach so that I can strap it on at a moment’s notice and go outside to confront illiterate “visitors” who can’t seem to recognize a dead end when it’s as obvious as the nose on their faces (and no, just to be clear, I certainly do not point the gun at them; I just keep it at my side as a “reminder” that when my signs say NO TRESPASSING and PRIVATE PROPERTY, that’s exactly what they –and I-- mean).  I also find it strange that these creatures can’t be bothered to use that other ubiquitous piece of electronic technology, the one that’s glued to their ears for 90-plus percent of their living day and that also distracts them from driving, and use it to call the party they are trying to visit at the address in question in order to get clear directions.  But that’s too much like effort, and God knows that TTs never exert effort unless their lives (or their drugs and alcohol) depend on it.

So what to do next? 

That’s a good question.  I think unidirectional road spikes, like the ones used in rental car garages to keep people from backing out, would be an ideal solution.  The problem with these, of course, is that they’d have to be retractable, probably by some form of remote control, in order to keep them for puncturing my and my neighbors’ tires.  Given that we’re talking about a dirt road, it would probably be much more work that it’s worth to make that happen.  Radio-controlled land mines would be nice too, but finding a supplier would be problematic, plus they too would have to be radio-controllable in order to keep us locals from blowing ourselves up.  Much easier, I think, would be a remote-controlled gate across the road, which my neighbors and I could open and close as needed.  Unfortunately, the expense of this would probably make it cost-prohibitive in the near term.  In the end, the only realistic and affordable option would be low-tech, either a steel cable or mesh barricade across the road.  This would be awkward in that it would require “manual control” (i.e., getting out of the car to unhook and reconnect it after entering and exiting the road) and probably would still not deter lost speed-bumps-with-pulses from trespassing.

In the end I suppose my nasty temperament (I need a sign that says NEVER MIND THE DOGS: BEWARE OF OWNER!) is the only vague hope I have of discouraging unwanted visitors.  Maybe another sign that reads ALL WHO ENTER CONSENT TO IMMEDIATE DRUG TESTING will scare them away.  I can’t think of any other “TT kryptonite” that would be comparable in force.

Thoughts and suggestions are most welcome from those of you who deal with a similar situation elsewhere, even if not on as regular a basis as I do here in ID10Tland.