Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Directionally Challenged

I get lost.

All the time.

I'm directionally challenged.  

The first week in the new house, I found it purely by luck.  And determination.  I had a general idea where the house was, so I just kept driving down streets until I found something that looked familiar.  And that's not the most embarrassing part.  I've lost my way home, on more than one occasion, when home had been home for two years.  I've learned that "short cuts" for me are not short at all, but a total act of frustration that adds at least 30 minutes to my trip.  

I grew up in a city where the mountains met the prairies.  Mountains were always to the west.  And down town was a beacon of large buildings amongst a whole lotta flat land.  If I were lost all I needed was to find the tall buildings or the mountains and I was good.

But here, in Vancouver (or the lower mainland, I suppose...as I don't really live in Vancouver, but a smaller 'corporation' named Delta) I get lost almost every other day.  I cannot even tell you how many times I've heard a little voice from the back seat say, "Mommy, are we lost again?"  I used to say that we were taking the scenic route and then point out a few trees or an empty parking lot and comment on how beautiful everything was.  But now, I don't even really dignify it with a coherent response.  

The lower mainland is built up of many little cities or corporations who's streets are all the same names.  And they have absolutely no correlation to one another.  River road in Richmond does not connect with River road in Delta.  So, when someone says, "Oh, just follow River road..." you need to clarify which River road they're referring to...and even that doesn't help me.  Unless maybe they do connect and I just haven't found out how yet. 

The mountains here are to the north.  Except Mt. Baker which is to the south.  The Ocean is to the west.  And there are tall buildings everywhere.  Again not so helpful.  I'll tell you why...sometimes I actually have to repeat to myself, "Never Eat Shredded Wheat" to remember where north actually is.   I also have been known to say, "I write with my right," just to avoid confusion.  And lefty loosy, righty tighty comes in handy too, but that's a different story for a different day.  And it's all great, but if I feel I'm going south even though I'm going north...shouldn't I trust my woman's intuition?

I don't understand people who feel the need to give directions using north, south, east, west.  I mean, turn north on such and such street.  Well, that would assume that you know where north is.  Although, having said that, turning left on such and such a street assumes you don't mix up your rights from your lefts...and keeping both hands safely on the steering wheel at ten and two does not exactly help if you're trying to make an "L" with your left hand to find out which way left is. 

And sometimes, I'm so certain I know where I am.  And it's usually when there is at least one non-directionally challenged person in the car.  I'm so proud of myself when I say, "Oh, I know where we are...I turn left here."  They say, "No, you turn right."  And I say, "No, I turn left."  And they say, "NO, you turn right"  and then I say...well, by then we've missed the exit, and they were right.  But in my defense, when you're coming from the opposite direction, it is left.  But that's a mute point when they're laughing. 

I was car pooling with a co-worker the other day, and we get to an intersection and I say (with a stroke of brilliance, I might add), "This is Yaletown!!"  He looks at me a little weird and says, "Ya...."  I guess it was a little weird, seeing as how I've been working about 5 blocks away from Yaletown for the past 2 years and had absolutely no idea.  And we've passed that intersection I don't know how many times before I realized it.  But I think of it as a breakthrough of sorts.  New and exciting things are waiting around every corner when you don't ever remember what corner you're on.

Which brings me to helpful directions...turn left at the McDonalds, right at the gas station.  I tend to choose moving 'landmarks' like a tow truck parked over....there...

It doesn't end with driving though.  I get lost in parking lots too.  One trip to Walmart and we're wandering around searching for the car.  Q was singing sweetly, practicing his "H's"  I did think this was a little odd, seeing as he is totally brilliant, I couldn't figure out why he wasn't saying the whole alphabet, only H.  Until about 5 minutes later when he finally said, "H, Mommy.  We parked by the letter H!!!!"  Oh, now isn't that helpful.  And who taught him that, I'd like to know.  It sure wasn't me....

Another time, I wandered around a mostly vacant underground parking lot for the better part of half an hour trying to find my car.  This time my mom was with me.  We didn't think to see what letter we'd parked under.  Where is that kid when you need him??  I hit my alarm button on my remote for the car over and over and over until we heard the faintest little 'beep!'   Thank God for car alarms is all I have to say!

I don't even know if a GPS would help me.  Can a computer laugh?  Or make you feel dumb?

"No...left.  Left.  Left.  No...your other left.  Oh...never mind..."

If everything had worked out as I had planned though, none of this would have been an issue.  If my sugar daddy had materialized, I would have a chauffeur...


  1. I stand corrected. It has been brought to my attention that it is not a "mute point", but a "moot point." I think the former sounds better, but the latter is correct, so we'll go with that one. And Wikipedia says it happens frequently, so there...

  2. ahhh much better:)