Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Whatever You Say...

From Monty Python's Life of Brian:
Brian: 'Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, you don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for yourselves! You're ALL individuals!'
The Crowd (speaking in unison): 'Yes! We're all individuals!'
Brian: 'You're all different!'
The Crowd (in unison): 'Yes, we ARE all different!'
Man in crowd: 'I'm not...'
The Crowd: 'Shhh!'

I think it is important to follow instructions, but there are two stories recently that highlight the extreme of this:

Driver obeys navigation system, no matter what

An 80-year-old German motorist obediently following his navigation system ignored a motorway "closed for construction" sign and crashed his Mercedes into a pile of sand further down the road, police said Monday.

"The driver was following the orders from his navigation system and even though there was a sufficient number of warnings and barricades, he continued his journey into the construction site," a police spokeswoman told Reuters.

"His trip finally ended when he wound up crashing into a pile of sand," she added.

The driver and his wife escaped uninjured from the collision, which occurred on a motorway near Hamburg.

The funny thing here is that he went through barricades and kept on going. What did he think would happen if he did not obey?

I thought this was humorous, but then today the following article appeared:

Obedient driver follows orders, crashes car

Mon Oct 23, 8:17 AM ET

A German motorist followed the command "Turn right n

ow!" from his navigation system and crashed into a small toilet hut by the side of the road -- about 30 yards before the crossing he was meant to take.

The overly obedient 53-year-old from Freiburg drove his sport utility vehicle off the road onto into a building site, up a stairway and into the small toilet shack, police in the eastern town of Rudolstadt said Sunday.

It caused 2,000 euros ($2,500) worth of damage to the stairway, 100 euros damage to his car, and he was also fined 35 euros.

Earlier this month an 80-year-old motorist also chose to follow his navigation system and ignored a "closed for construction" sign on a Hamburg motorway. He then crashed into a pile of sand but neither he nor his passenger were injured.

Initially I thought this was the same article, but this is a much younger person. This guy actually drove up some stairs.

Here are some observations:

  1. Note the German propensity for following orders (I am German, so I can say that). We Germans like things to be orderly and so tend to like strong authority. It is only natural that this happened in Germany.
  2. I wonder if the navigation systems in Germany speak with a more commanding tone than those in the US. "Dumkopf! Turn Left! Now!!!"
  3. That's one special SUV that can go up stairs!
  4. What is a toilet shack? What is it doing along the side of the road?

Now, I have had my own problems with these navigation systems. I was in Oregon on a business trip and decided I wanted to get a car with a navigation system. All was going well, and I decided I needed to go to Wal-Mart. When I punched Wal-Mart into the Nav System, it told me the nearest one was in Las Vegas (about 900 miles away!). On the bright side, I did have very good directions to that Wal-Mart. I'm sure it had slot machines in it as well.

On the same trip, we were trying to get to Crater Lake and it gave me directions down a dirt road that had trees across it. When you turn around and try and find another route, it keeps reminding you that you are going the wrong direction. Obviously the technology needs some work.

Maybe this is why the dogs crashed their cars...