2009-12-02

The little brick that did, and other mobile device adventures

So my friend Jason and I went to the San Francisco International Auto Show yesterday night. Getting there was easy enough, traffic was playing nice for most of the way, and we found parking close by the convention center, and off we were to the show.

There will be a separate post about the actual show, while I would like to turn your attention, my gentle reader, to our adventures on the way back to the parking garage to retrieve the car.

When leaving the parking lot, I remembered a few landmarks and the name of the street from which the underground parking lot was accessible, and Jason saved the name of the parking service on his phone. We were within ten minutes or less of a walk from the Moscone center, which was visible from the main street, as soon as we turned out of the side street, called Jessie.

Finding the way back was a bit harder. For starters, we got out of Moscone on the side farthest from parking. I figured we could use some help, and punched "Jessie Street at Mision" as a destination into the Google Maps app. Ten minutes or so later we found ourselves at a corner that looked nothing like where we needed to be.

At which point Jason, who has the new Droid phone, comes to the rescue and--using voice commands, no less--has his phone search for "Tower Valet Parking." Droid obliges, and we discover that we must be about a block off. So we walk over there, turn into what seems to be another Jessie Street, and find ourselves in front of Tower Valet all right. Just that it's the wrong Tower Valet.

So I decide it is my turn to use a superpower to save the day and ask the parking attendant, showing him the parking stub, where the other Tower Valet is. He looks at the ticket, looking more puzzled than I feel comfortable with, and says, "There's a phone number. Call the number."

Dejected, I rejoined Jason in the street.

We circled the Jessie Streets and their corners with Mission a few more times, up and down between 7th and 4th, where the damn street, which seems to have devoured the parking garage, and our car with it, appeared to end.

My thoughts turned to the possibility of catching the last train to Mountain View, but Jason understandably didn't want to abandon his car in some alternate-reality parking lot.

Then, the flash of genius! We had the garage's address! On the parking stub!

Promptly, it got punched into the Droid and soon enough we were smelling the familiar aroma of the good old Tower Valet, made up of urine, car exhaust, and some strongly-perfumed cleaning agent, that failed to do anything about the urine, and only seemed to add a new pungent note to it.

Let me tally up: Between the two of us, and three GPS-enabled mobile devices, it took us 40 minutes to find the parking garage, whose address we've had all along.

Human intelligence win?