As the recent government shutdown demonstrated, we are a country in need of a sense of direction. I am not sure who will get our nation back on course, but I am certain of one thing; it won’t be me. My lack of a sense of direction is legendary.
One time I got lost in a Bed, Bath and Beyond for three days. If the store didn’t have beds, baths, and a “beyond” in the form of a vending machine, I might not have survived the ordeal. On the advice of my attorney, I cannot comment in detail about the incident. Suffice it to say, I think the store manager might have been a little more understanding about the signal fire I built in the linens aisle.
It would seem that someone with my degree of “direction deficiency” might be thrilled by the advent of the GPS. Unfortunately, while these instruments are very helpful to most people, I find them to be confusing. It doesn’t help that the little lady who lives in that tiny device always seems to cop an attitude with me.
One time I was on a trip to New Jersey with a friend, and we borrowed a GPS to ensure that we would arrive at our destination. I entered the address into the GPS, and we started our drive. All was good in the beginning, when we were taking main routes and there was no opportunity to make a wrong turn. However, things got slightly more complicated when we found ourselves in the heart of the Garden State, where there are 635 miles of roadway per square mile of real estate. Little Miss Good Directions would issue instructions like, “Right turn in 200 feet.” Well, when I’m driving I don’t always think to carry around a yardstick or a tape measure. Sure enough, without the ability to accurately measure random distances, I would miss a turn, and the Windshield Wench would get all snooty. “Recalculating route,” she would say in a tone that implied the driver, yours truly, was dumber than a bag of hammers.
After the fifth or sixth minor misunderstanding on my part, my Global Positioning Nag growled at me like Regan in The Exorcist. As it turned out she got the last laugh when her discombobulated directions resulted in my pulling into the docks of Port Newark on an empty tank of gas.
Now, when I am going on a trip, I usually employ the shameless tactic of asking someone to accompany me and hope that he or she can drive us there.
I was signed up for the Green Mountain Marathon in South Hero last weekend. I live off exit 4 of the interstate. The exit for South Hero is exit 17. You don’t have to be a math wizard to know this offered a minimum of 13 wrong turns I could make before I even got close to the event. After telling my girlfriend, Kathy, about the race, she said she had a brother who lives near South Hero and she would be more than willing to take us there. I took her up on the generous offer, and before I knew it we were headed north on I-89.
It was a beautiful morning, and as we drove we conversed and enjoyed the foliage. At one point, as the hours seemed to advance, I looked to the side of the road and saw an interesting sign. “Oh, look,” I commented to my competent, directionally adept driver, “That sign says, ‘Canada 2 miles.’”
“Neat,” she replied, and after a short pause, added, “What?!”
Then she said a string of words that were pretty cool but entirely inappropriate to be repeated in a family newspaper.
The beauty of her quickly woven tapestry of profanities was only outdone by her amazing driving. I have never before seen a car turn left from the right hand lane and go up on two wheels to make a U-turn through the emergency turnaround in the median. And I certainly have never before been in a car that performed this maneuver. And if there is anyone in the law enforcement community reading this, I deny everything.
Once we were headed south, Kathy switched from her leaf peeper driving mode to that of a highly caffeinated Danica Patrick and zoomed past the three missed exits to our destination. We got to the race with minutes to spare.
Since last weekend I have been doing some thinking about this little incident. We will be going to New Jersey in a few weeks and it might be best if we can find someone to take us there. It would be helpful if our volunteer had both a car and a friend or relative in the Garden State.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.
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