I’ve been wanting to do this for so long and I’m glad I finally get around to doing it today on this fifteenth anniversary. And while I do not remember precisely when I began using the app, I do remember the point I became really thankful for it. Sometimes, you do not realize what good you have unless you intentionally meditate on their contribution to your life. So, here goes my list.
Getting hooked up: It wasn’t a hit at first
I was born and raised in Lagos where I still live. I was bad at memorizing turns and routes in spite of passing Geography in high school. I didn’t care much about this for most of my life. I just needed to know the closest bus stop to my destination and I left the bus drivers with the navigation business. Then I got a car and got fresh troubles with it. I had seen GPS work in cars in America and wondered if Nigeria could ever have that blessing. I tried Google Maps and it wasn’t a hit at first.
“In 500metres, at the roundabout, use the 3rd exit.”
“Sir? Which one is the third one?” I’d never counted the turns in my life. “Where is the 500-metre mark? Why am I needing Mathematics again in my life?”
I gave up at first then picked it up again at another junction of my navigation life. Then I began to pay attention and then the blessings followed:
1. I know more street names than ever!
Google Maps introduced me to my own streets.
I could have sworn I knew my own routes like the palm of my hand – after all, I pass them every day. From using the app habitually, I found that I didn’t know their names (or that their names changed)!! Now, what do you call that? I soon realised why Lagosians are bad at giving directions.
2. I found new routes
Call me Dora the Explorer and you won’t be far from the truth. G.Maps takes me through streets I never knew were connected just to get me to my destination in time. Now, have there been misses? Definitely. I’ve landed at some dead ends and needed to turn all the way back sometimes. But even at that moment, I find that I’ve discovered places (and sometimes, people) I never knew existed.
3. Don’t try my Math!
Courtesy of Google Maps, I find that I am more scientific in my thinking especially as having to do with distances. I get the concept of directions better, can visualize distances when estimated in metres or kilometres and can give directions better. Adjusts halo*
Like I am better mentally because of this app, what an unexpected blessing! Unintended consequence
4. Helps my security
You know that thing security experts say about varying your routes for safety reasons? Yep, Google Maps helps me do that. There are at least four to six routes to get to my office and back home. I found out from using the maps daily. So rather than keep using the same one out of habit, I check out new turns and discover more of Lagos while staying safe.
5. I make better decisions
No driving myself into an unplanned traffic jam. Before I leave Point A for B, be it home for the office, I turn on the app to find the best route, the best time to leave and most importantly, decide if to make the journey or reschedule. I’m constantly trying to gain on time, so even for the shortest distance, I check the map.
6. Helps my mental health
If you live in Lagos, you know that road trips aren’t fun especially when you’re the one driving. Driving is cerebral in Lagos. You’re constantly calculating which is the best lane to stay in and when to move to the other, all while trying to pre-empt the movement of the truck or bus driver next to you. It is chaotic most times. And this is why I totally need to prepare mentally before embarking on any trip. Google Maps helps me do that. How?
By checking the app before the journey begins, I have an idea of my ETA. That way, I can take care of my emotions ahead of the drive. I decide if I need to carry some water, a snack or plan to buy which one in traffic, curse or cry in advance, and just generally be better receptive of the coming situation.
Do you use Google Maps? What has your experience been?