Me and My Tom Tom

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How come I don’t understand what my Tom Tom’s telling me to do? I bought one a few years ago for Relationnel but I’ve hardly ever used it. Now that we live in the middle of Paris, I rarely drive because it’s mostly just as fast to take the metro or the bus inside the city and when we go into the country, Relationnel always takes the wheel. I’d much rather look at the scenary or talk to Black Cat or snooze. So I’m used to hearing the Tom Tom but not to following the  instructions.

I practically turned round in circles in the 16th arrondissement the other day trying to understand where I was supposed to be going and yesterday, when I was going to the sales at Usine Center in the north of Paris, I overshot the turnoff completely. Relationnel tells me I should be watching the screen as well. But I have to confess it doesn’t really help! Maybe it’s just a question of practice. I certainly hope so because once we start going down to Blois more often I’ll be driving to a lot more in places I don’t know, not like in Paris where I can usually navigate pretty well, even around Place de l’Etoile.

In French, they call it a “GPS” but I noticed when some friends friends came over from Australia recently, they called it a Tom Tom. I must say it’s extremely useful when we travel to other countries. I can remember some terrible arguments in Italy especially when I didn’t manage to direct us where we should, one of the main reasons being that Relationnel follows his sense of direction which doesn’t work too well when there are one-way streets. I remember one horrendous day in Pisa when the river kept getting in the way.

But now that he’s got the Tom Tom to talk back to, I don’t have to navigate any more. “Faites demi-tour dès que possible” it says imperiously (I’ve got the voice down to a pat) when we’re going in the opposite direction. “Vous êtes arrivé” (with the liaison and all) when we reach our destination. “Tournez immédiatement à gauche. Tournez à gauche. Tournez à gauche!” in desperation when you’re about to miss the turn. The trouble is I miss it anyway. The voice sounds so real that we start explaining what we’re doing! “Hang on. We need to get petrol.” or “We’re going to the supermarket first” (me) or “That couldn’t possibly be right” or “No way. I’m not taking that direction” (Relationnel).

We tried using a man’s voice but neither of us liked it. I’ll let you look for the psychology behind that.

I could try putting it in English I suppose. Maybe I would understand better.  Do you have problems with your Tom Tom?

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14 thoughts on “Me and My Tom Tom”

  1. Here people call them navigators rather than Tom Toms, probably because the brand has a smaller market share here. I have Navigon Europe and Navigon New Zealand on my iPhone. They’re fairly accurate. I prefer the Australian female navigatrix 😉 to the imperious Brit who says all the Maori place names with a stuffy English accent that makes absolutely no attempt to get them right (Maori’s phonetic and the pronounciation is similar to Italian – how hard can it be when you’re doing the voice for an entire country?!). The woman seems a little more comfortable with the place names.
    I can choose a range of European languages on the European one and the Italian’s pretty good. The advantage with having it on my phone is that I always have it with me and it updates automatically. Also, with the European version all the countries are in-depth, whereas the built-in car navigator the European version only has the main routes and is now incredibly out of date (I don’t try going into the centre of Florence with an out-of-date navigator – you’ll spend two hours during which all roads lead to Fortezza del Basso, which makes the Arc de Triomphe seem a breeze!). There’s an Australian version available but I think a lot of people use one called Synergy.
    I prop my iPhone up on glass where the odometer is, behind the steering wheel. The rubbery case seems to hold it in place and I can see and hear it easily while keeping one eye on the road. The only down side is that you have to charge it while you’re using it because it consumes a lot of battery.

    1. I hesitated to use the iPhone and got a second Tom Tom instead. I love your comments about the Maori place names. You’d think they could have got a New Zealand voice, wouldn’t you? One of my Facebook fans had a similar comment about Italy:
      “It’s funny you should mention it being useful in Italy. In Italy with my parents a couple of years ago, the maps provided for the country were about 30 years out of date, and several roads didn’t exist anymore/had collapsed. One on occasion we had to empty luggage out of the car and push it as getting back the way we came (the road stopped at a river) it didn’t have enough power to go back up the hill on the very old road. That’s what you get for following robot instructions blindly…”

    2. I’ve also used my mobile (HTC/Android) as a satnav, though it ceased to be useful when it sent me the wrong way and my irritated three-point-turn sent it flying away under the seat!

        1. As I don’t own a car myself, it was very handy to just happen to have the function built into my mobile for a one-off trip! The problem actually arose once I’d arrived and was looking for the right spot on an industrial estate – so the sensible thing to do would have been to stop using it, as it didn’t actually know where I was going beyond there!

  2. We have a Garmin. I requested it as I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. I once drove for an hour around a neighbouring city trying to find a flat I was supposed to be viewing. I came home in tears! I do find it hard to follow the instructions. I wish it would be more precise and perhaps interactive! That way I could tell it no, I can’t go straight because a big wall is straight ahead! I also find that it’s rather approximate. It can get you to more or less the right place but not the exact location. For example, on the right street, but not the right address. I do find the “return home” button very reassuring.

  3. We also had trouble in Pisa and ended up on the Autostrada (I think that is what it is called) without a ticket to get off. In Florence we also went around and around in circles trying to get to the airport to return our car. We could see planes to our left but just couldn’t seem to find the correct turn in.

    1. That must have been very nerve-racking – to see the planes and not be able to get to the airport! I hope you finally made it in time.

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