Applying Google Text on the road

Years back we posted on Google’s new technology that lets you google simple questions to the search engine via the text message function on your phone. If you question is easily answerable, the service will return your query with a short answer in a text message.

This, my friends, is a powerful, powerful tool, that I believe many people under utilize. So to demonstrate a good example of how Google text has saved my ass multiple times on the road, I’ll give one example of a trip I recently took.

I have yet to indulge in the Blackberry or handheld wireless internet market for two reasons: the data fees that AT&T charges are completely unacceptable and I don’t want to devote my life to the internet attached to my hip. I’ll probably break down at some point, but for now I’m still resisting. What I do have, however, like most other people who own mobile phones, is a text message function (or SMS, as the Europeans often call it) that I occasionally use to keep in touch with friends or send dirty messages during meetings at work.

A few months back I was headed out to my weekly pilgrimage to Detroit‘s Metro Airport (DTW) for another one of my typical weekend trips. I usually park off site because the shuttles seem faster and they issue online coupons for free days, so took the red Qwikpark shuttle from my car straight into McNamara terminal. As usual, I was cutting it close, so by the time we rolled into the terminal I was hot to get through security. Ignoring the departure and arrival monitors, I burst through the security checkpoint and headed up for the the internal train that runs the length of the terminal.

As I crossed the large span towards the terminal, I pulled out my boarding pass, checked my flight (say, Northwest 266) then plugged it into my text box as NW266 and sent it to GOOGL, or 46645. Five steps later I received a text message saying that my flight was on time, departing from gate A6 and had the number for customer service just in case of problems. Now I knew to get on the northbound train.

Immediately when I got on the tram, I felt that something was wrong.
I checked my pockets – left pocket, cell phone, right pocket, wallet. No keys. Damn it. I must have left it on the Qwikpark shuttle. Thinking quickly, I texted “Qwikpark, Romulus, MI” to 46645 and was immediately given their number. Hitting the send button with the text message open, my L7 picked up the number, asked if I wanted to dial it and patched me through to Qwikpark.


“Yeaaaah. I think I just left my keys on the shuttle that dropped me off at the Mac. I think my driver’s name was…. Duane? I was sitting in the back corner. They’re black switchblade keys”

“Oh, ok. Hang on a second.” Pause. Radio noise. “Yeah, he’s got it. We’ll keep it in the office until you get back”

“Cool! I’ll be back in a couple of days. Thanks!”

“No problem”

Now I didn’t have to carry around my keys with me for the entire weekend! But I’ll admit, I was lucky. Darting towards my gate because I was still late, I thought about the weather where I was heading and considered switching into my sandals. I GOOGL’ed, say, “Boston, weather” and found out that it was going to be raining all weekend. Better keep my shoes on.

Just then, I reached my gate as they were starting to board the aircraft. Time to head out.
Where would I be if I hadn’t 46645 at my side? Well, I would have been a little later getting to my gate since I would have had to go out of my way, stop at the monitors, find my flight and find my gate. I’d be even further later because I would have to call 411, pay a service fee and track down my car key. I also wouldn’t know what to expect about the weather in Boston.

But because of the power of Google and a little quick texting, I got all three tasks out of the way quickly and efficiently.

Traveling can be tough. Little things can add up, setting you back a half step every time and adding to your stress level. You carry this frustration with you all day and in the end it can take a serious toll on your body, physically and emotionally. You become short, angry with the person that you’re traveling with and turn into a person that you don’t want to be when you’re on the road.

While still an inconvenience, Google text helps by giving you a shortcut the solution — and any reduction in stress during travel is important. Give it a try next time you’re on the road. You can’t forget G-O-O-G-L, right?