My life has become dependent on a little blue dot.
This little blue dot I am referring to is the directional decoder on the google maps app on my iPhone 4S.
Of course the iPhone 5 can now be ordered, and has reportedly ditched google maps for its own GPS service, but I will more than likely skip the iPhone 5 and my next phone will probably be the 7, or a computer chip in my head.
So for now, I have the 4S, and I wander around Tokyo holding my smart phone out before me like an offering to the digital gods that direct my fate.
This little device is amazing. If you want directions by public transportation, you dial in your destination and it will give you the quickest route, even telling you which train line to take.
If you are walking, it leads you through these dark alleys and back yards, yet you still wind up at whatever watering hole you are stumbling to.
Of course, there are some kinks.
When disembarking from a train station, it takes a few minutes for the app to recalibrate. For instance, last night I emerged from Shibuya station, which is crazy busy. Everybody at Shibuya station is on their cell phone, so the signal can be disrupted pretty easily.
So there I was at Shibuya Crossing, the glow of my iPhone illuminating my face like Tinkerbell, discerning my orientation. I was meeting some friends at Las Chicas restaurant in Jingumae. Google maps said it was a 15 minute walk.
Unfortunately, the blue dot had not caught up to my current location. In fact, it told me I was standing on the opposite side of Shibuya Station.
Finally, the coordinates clicked in a satellite in deep space, and the little blue dot glided across my iPhone screen like the puck on the easy levels of Pong.
However, the next step is to decide which direction I need to walk. The unfortunate feature of my google maps app is that all of the landmarks are written in Japanese.
See, when you plug in your directions, the app gives you this blue line that leads you to your destination. If you are going the right way, the little blue dot will follow along this blue line.
If you are going the wrong direction, which is always the case for me, the blue dot wanders off into no man’s land. Also known as Harajuku.
So at the beginning of my trek, I begin walking in one direction to make sure the blue dot follows the blue line. Since 100 percent of the time, it does not, I then have to reorient myself. Do I have to go in the opposite direction? Do I take a right? Do I take a left?
Once on my way to a job interview, I had to recalibrate my direction 5 times. That’s right. Do the math.
However, the google maps app has never let me down.
I get a kick whenever I see other Americans striding down the sidewalk with their eyes glued to the iPhone held out in front of them like a divining rod. I feel like I am part of a club.
Though instead of upgrading to the latest iPhone, I’ll probably just buy a map and compass.