This Was A Thing: Printed Out Directions

6lfia73mdpkzThe people from Mapquest must be absolutely kicking themselves.

Honestly, same goes for Blockbuster and Scrabble, but still.

This is going to sound crazy, young folks, but there was a time, before the equally-archaic notion of your parents saying, “Bring the GPS with you,” that you literally had to print out directions to places you wanted to go on actual paper.

Before we get there, let’s discuss that GPS period of our lives. You remember that time, right? When we all owned some version of a Garmin because the GPS was, literally, a separate device. You know, like how cameras and music playing devices used to be separate devices and you had to make choices for your day/evening based on pocket availability. What a time to be alive.

Anyway, for someone under the age of 20, it’s probably incomprehensible to even consider the notion that printers were ever of serious use… let alone the idea that almost every home had one (and that they almost always seemed to run out of ink when you needed it.)

As I’m currently writing, it dawned on me that these posts are really just designed to inform people like my niece—who is nearly 13—what life was like when I was growing up. A sentence like that sounds like I voted for Hoover, that I’m trying to explain to her that you should save your carrot and potato shavings because you never know when you’re gonna be hungry.

So, in that vein, let me explain the steps:

If you wanted to go somewhere, you had to decide where that was going to be in advance of leaving your home.

Then, you had to look it up on the stationary Gateway computer that lived in a room of its own like a demanding houseguest on a site like Mapquest (think: Google Maps.)

From there, you’d print out the directions on your home printer. Try as you may, something was always off about the calibration of the printing. Directions 5 and 6 got cut off between pages, the ink would run out, one full page might be missing or blank for no reason. It was rarely ever smooth.

Finally, you’d bring the multiple sheets of paper into your car and then verbally speak them aloud to the driver. God help you if you were the one driving, as you’d have to either have memorized the directions or read and drive (the 1990s version of texting and driving, surely.)

Now, at what point does an 18-year old of today, if forced to go through these steps, simply give up and stay home?

My best guess pegs it somewhere around the “think before you leave your house” point.

It was a waste of paper, a waste of time and a waste of effort. Garmin and Mapquest had us printing shit out like plastic straws weren’t ever going to be a problem.

Believe it or not, this was a thing.



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