True confession: I am a direction-challenged human being. I fully admit there are many challenged people in this world with extremely severe and serious disabilities and afflictions, and in no way do I equate my challenge to those; but a challenge is truly what this is. I have spent my life not knowing how to get somewhere, going there and not being able to get back, driving around aimlessly until I could get my bearings, and sometimes never achieving that result. My Dad would say, “Always have a full tank. As long as you have gas, you’re never really lost.” I have to repeat that to myself time and again even 40+ years later.
Achievement tests in school were always hard for me. I would do okay on Social Studies, fine on Math, and superb on English and Reading, but the Map Reading was always in the dumpster. The report would be average, above average, high achievement, high achievement, below average… way below average. What is with this? No matter what, I always go the direction I truly feel is right, only to find that sadly I am wrong. I was lost going to my locker at school. It was a relief when they were assigned alphabetically, so I would try to take as many classes as I could with my alpha partners making my return trip from the my locker easier. Going to the mall is okay because I learned how to get there. I try to park in the same parking lot every time, and go in through the same store. While in the mall, however, I cannot seem to get back to that store and that entrance without some notes or having to ask someone how to get back to Bergners. I still never know which exit off Veterans’ Parkway to take to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. My life consists of being able to follow a road or interstate to the main destination like Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Indianapolis, IN; but once there, never knowing how to get around the cities themselves sucks. Thank goodness for hotels and restaurants just off the road. I flashback to going into our corporate office which was across the street from our satellite office to tape a special educational voiceover, parking, getting through Security, and then being hopelessly lost within the walls of the building. I reached the recording booth by asking every 5th person ‘how to get to…’, then coming back out by asking every 5th person ‘how to get to the Security Entrance…,’ then once in the parking lot trying to find the car itself. Pitiful, I know, but a real and true malady it is.
GPS has been a phenomena in my and other direction-challenged adulthood. What a fabulous brainchild! I can now get to the grandkids school without getting completely and hopelessly lost in the country. The challenges don’t end there, however. I am not totally out of the woods yet. The next conundrum lies in finding the gymnasium for the program, then winding back through the school to the parking lot and the car. Just getting to the cafeteria at work for my morning coffee took a few trips to learn. The buddy system is always a good thing. I have the ‘I Parked My Car Here’ app on my iPhone (another marvel), I take pictures in parking garages and lots so I can find the car, write down or take a picture of the lot row, or name of the entrance or exit, etc. Remote key entry is also great because you can beep the horn, make the headlights flash, and if all else fails, pop the trunk. A requirement also is to always have some kind of an aerial decoration to make our car stand out from others. I use valet parking when appropriate because someone else parks the car and brings it back. If you are lost in the building it’s easier to ask someone for directions to the Valet than to Entrance A in Building C or whatever. I have a printed State Farm Atlas and Map Quest as well as their phone app. In addition, dashboard and phone GPS and compasses, then there’s Trip Advisor, Yelp, and all other manner of travel help-aides. Back-up and more back-up.
People going about their daily lives is second nature to most, but for those who often never know where they truly are headed throws the proverbial monkey’s wrench in an otherwise routine day. If you are lucky enough to have the innate ability to ‘get around’ effortlessly, I am truly in awe. When I try to explain this angst-ridden quandary to people who travel around without a care in the world, it often puts me in the ‘she’s quite daft’ category in their eyes. My family and friends know I am going to need help when I go anywhere. It is a real thing, and it’s not for lack of trying. Just ask my own personal GPS, my husband, who says, “Now when you come out of the bathroom there, turn left.” God bless him… Sandy