Born and raised in Queens, New York, Matt Mok moved to New Hampshire when someone offered him a wheelbarrow full of
cash to work for them. One day, he decided to give writing a try and to his surprise, a few publications have accepted his
stories. Matt resolves to one day dream up a brilliant idea which he will turn into a completed novel. He currently resides in
Hampton, NH, where trees and fresh air still scare him.
My Pal Garmin
I grew tired and listless during my drive back to New York for the holidays. The highway route was monotonous and slow; I was
just one among many driving at this languorous pace. I tried different things to stay awake, screamed to shock myself into
alertness, blinked my tired eyes to lubricate them, sang badly to Christmas songs on the radio. Nothing worked. I focused on
the road – or tried to – and merged onto the next stretch of highway.
I had only endured an hour of the drive when my distaste for holiday gatherings had grown into unchecked frustration, leading
me to punch in HOME on my Garmin GPS device. Family gatherings over Christmas were overrated anyway. I would call and say
I was snowed in. I could see a few flurries already.
"Continue for three miles," said the Garmin in stilted speech. Even though its voice was just a combination of sound files, it
sounded familiar, almost human.
I yawned, blinked the sleep from my eyes. I would need to stay awake a little longer, even as I was driving farther away from
my original destination.
"So, Garmin," I said, "Have you been doing this long? You know, giving directions and all that?"
Of course there was no response, but I continued my side of the conversation.
"Man, I am really sleepy. I hate these long drives, don't you? Exhausting. And for what? It's the holidays. Blah, blah, blah.
Why do I have to drive three hundred miles to see family? I talk to most of them every week. The others I don't normally see
anyway. To be honest, I'm glad I decided to turn around. It's warm at home. I can make some cocoa. Or read a book.
There's a book I've been trying to finish. I brought it with me too, but –"
"Make a U-turn."
"I know you're supposed to be smart, have all this fancy GPS stuff inside you, but we humans call this a highway. I can't make
a U-turn here. In fact, I think it would upset a lot of these other nice people if I did."
"Continue thirty six miles and exit right."
"Well now you're making more sense. What was I saying? Oh yeah. I don't think I would've gotten much reading done. Mom
would have put me to work the minute I stepped through the doorway. Dad would've spent the day trying to get me to take
some new job at the company. Some of the extended family are fine, when they aren't pestering me with personal questions.
Then there's the strange shifty category of family friends. I swear I have never seen some of those people before in my life, yet
they know my name and more about me than I'm comfortable with. Oh! And the food. Actually the food is pretty good. Mom
makes this chicken and it is so –"
I only had forty more miles and I'd be back in the peaceful confines of my apartment, but there was something telling me that I
needed to turn back, that I owed it to the holiday season to make the trip, that I might even regret it if I didn't, that Mom would
throw a fit if I didn't show. I punched in my parents' house for the second time that day.
"Yeah, yeah. I wanted to see if they'd like my present anyway. I got them one of your friends, a slightly newer model. Should
be funny though. I got them a laptop last year. It was like introducing cavemen to fire. Hey, anybody ever tell you you're a
"Exit right in point one mile."
I was so drawn into my one-sided conversation that I hadn't bothered checking the exit number. There were two exits very
close together, no more than thirty feet apart, one heading east, and the other west. I took the first one, realizing my error