Finding my way
Rayda gave me a GPS for my birthday. She gave it to me 56 years too late. Among the problems of poor spatial skills, besides atrocious handwriting, is a poor sense of direction. I have never had a poor sense of direction because I have never had a sense of direction of any kind. You could put me down anywhere on planet earth and I’d get hopelessly lost in five minutes. As a child, I envied Hansel & Gretel because they were smart enough to drop breadcrumbs as they walked alone so that they could find their way home. In Jr. High School it took me weeks to be able to find my locker, I’d always end up on the wrong hallway.
I don’t know what causes poor spatial skills. It is much more common among women and, according to a Swedish study released this year, homosexuals males. Interestingly, lesbians were found to have good senses of direction. I’m sure that most people who have traveled with me wished that I was a lesbian. The most common things said to me in car are “left here…LEFT !” and, “you missed it.”
What is really bad about people with poor senses of directions is that they can’t read maps either (or do math, but that’s another issue). So when someone passes me a map to help out, they may as well be handing me a monkey wrench for all the good that it will do me. My wife believes that my sense of direction is actually very predictable and that If I will just go the exact opposite way of the way I believe that I am supposed to go, I will end up going the right way. I have tried that. It does not work. I am not shy about stopping to ask directions, but I have found that listening to directions is a very hard thing to do, your mind is always somewhere else and you always want to pretend that you know exactly what the direction giver is telling you, no matter how confusing. My old college roommate and I were lost one night and pulled over to ask directions. An old codger told us to “go down this street and “shafer” on over and then do a half moon.” I swear that’s what he said. Neither of us had the nerve to ask what a “shafer” was, or where the “moon” was. We just nodded sagely and hoped that the other guy knew. The proceeded to be lost for another half an hour.
I am excited about the GPS device. I have found through its use rented cars that I will still screw up, but when I do the GPS tells me “Take your next legal U-Turn.” Just like my passengers always do. I will never drive alone again. All of which reminds me of a time I flew into Philadelphia and took an immediate wrong turn after leaving the rental car agency. I noticed fairly quickly that I was not heading toward the big buildings downtown and that the sky was getting darker (after the sun goes down I can really get lost). I took a freeway exit and got caught in traffic which, as it turned out, was heading to the ballpark. I stayed in line, turned into the stadium and went in to watch the ballgame. I did not particularly want to see the game, but I knew that it would be three more hours before I could get lost again, and I needed a break. The bad news, of course, was that it took forever for me to get to my hotel after the game.
As we move into the new year, I want to wish you all an excellent sense of direction for 2009, and if you get lost, give me a call, I have the tools to get you there !