Once upon a time there was a good man called Joe. He was very generous, and loved to give good things to his friends. Joe would stand in the market and offer a free car to anyone who felt weary from carrying all their stuff. He told them to tell their friends about the free car offer. Of course, the cars weren't really free as Joe had to pay for them himself but they were free to the recipients.
Joe always supplied a car with some petrol in it. He even told people to come back and ask when they ran out of petrol and he would give them some more. He gave them an instruction book and asked them to use the car carefully, to obey all the rules of the road and to make sure the car was properly serviced and looked after. "If you do all this", he said, "the car will take you wherever you need to go."
Chris had been given one of Joes's free cars. He went to a club every week and there he found lots of other people who also had free cars from Joe. They loved to talk about what a wonderful man Joe was, so generous!
After a while Chris noticed that his car wasn't going so well and he wondered what was wrong. He looked in the instruction book and it reminded him that cars without petrol don't work too well, but that he could always ask Joe for more petrol. He mentioned this to his friends at the club but they put him off, saying various contradictory things:
Chris noticed that some people, while claiming that they had plenty of petrol, were still pushing their cars. When he asked them about this they denied that they were pushing! "Driving always makes me go red in the face and get out of breath", they said. "Why are you going so slowly?" he asked. "I'm not slow, it's just that some other people drive far too fast. That's the trouble with car enthusiasts."
Chris saw that some of the car enthusiasts, as well as driving quickly (and sometimes rather noisily!), always seemed to know where they were going while ordinary drivers often seemed lost. He asked them how they got such good directions. They said they had a useful device called SatNav, which Joe had given them. The SatNav knew where they were, and where they should be, and spoke to them and told them how to get from where they were to where they should be. "Does that mean you never need a map?" asked Chris. "No, we still use the map because that helps us decide where we need to go. The SatNav helps us on our way because the system can see problems or diversions ahead which, of course, the map doesn't show. We need both." Later, Chris asked the other people about this. "There is no such thing as SatNav", they said. "All you need is a good map, and Joe has given us that. Who on earth would believe that a machine can talk? Those car enthusiasts have rich imaginations!" They also hinted that the enthusiasts didn't really believe that the map was reliable. Some told him that SatNav was used many years ago when cars were first invented, but once someone had drawn a map and included it in the car instructions there was no need for SatNav so the system had been switched off.
Sadly, a few car enthusiasts did sometimes come a cropper. Those who never looked at a map but just relied on their SatNav sometimes drove straight into canals, or got stuck in very narrow streets. The instructions did tell them to always check the SatNav against the map, because only the map was 100% reliable, but some of them didn't bother to do this.
For a while Chris persevered in pushing his car, like most other people at the club. He was getting increasingly weary. Eventually he decided that this was silly, and he would ask Joe for some petrol. He found Joe, who asked him "How are you getting on? I haven't seen you for a while. You must have run out of petrol by now. You look exhausted! Have you been pushing? Why didn't you come to me and ask for more petrol? Didn't you believe me? Have you been listening to those silly people who prefer to push?" Chris felt rather uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I should have read and obeyed your instructions. Please can I have some more petrol?" "Of course," said Joe, "I will fill you up right away." Suddenly Chris found the car was working again, and he didn't need to push. "Would you like me to fit SatNav too?" asked Joe.
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created 2 June 2009