I have a good sense of direction. I like to know where I am at all times, so I pay attention to where things are at. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived about an hour from us. I always watched carefully the route we took to get to their house. If somehow I ended up on my own, I knew which direction to head in order to get home. (Never mind the dire reasons why a nine-year-old would suddenly find herself separated from her family!) I didn't know the street names, but I knew we turned left by the restaurant with the lion on the door, and I knew we had a right turn past the church with the rock wall surrounding the yard. Yes sir, I knew my way around!
The first time I moved away from home was when my husband and I moved from my neighborhood in the suburbs of Chicago to his neighborhood in the suburbs of Detroit. I memorized all the side streets and cross streets in our area within the first two weeks of living there. I wanted to know my way around.
These days I will usually mapquest an address I'm looking for. I'm aware that mapquest isn't perfect, but I usually back it up with a map of my own in the car. I'll look on mapquest to get a general idea of where I'm going, and I'll note any significant markers such as exit numbers or mileage points. It works for me.
My husband is a little more directionally challenged. He just recently got a new GPS unit for his car, and he absolutely loves it. I guess he'll never get lost again. He loves it so much, he wanted me to try it out the other night. I had a ladies' Bible study to go to. The hostess had provided maps on the back table at church. I dutifully picked one up and just as quickly lost it. It didn't matter, though. I'd been to her house before. It had been a while, but I was sure I could remember how to get there. I just couldn't remember the street I turned onto near her house. My husband had been there recently so I was getting ready to leave, I asked him the name of the street.
"You can't go that way," he informed me. "There's construction and the street is closed."
This caused a problem for me. In most cases I would have known other streets to take. But Florida is different. Every street here twists and turns. There is no direct route anywhere. Streets disappear and reappear miles later. I headed back upstairs to mapquest my directions.
"Wait!" My husband called. "You can use my GPS unit! It'll take you right there."
He so loves his new toy. He ran out to his truck to get it for me. I ran upstairs to mapquest the address so that I wouldn't need his new toy. The idea of a computerized machine talking to me and giving me directions unnerved me. If it was going with me, I wanted an actual map to refer to as well, just in case I got lost. But I only got a quick glimpse at the map before he came bounding into the room.
"See, I programmed the address in here. You'll have no problems at all."
I reluctantly followed him downstairs. "So this thing will direct me to Susan's house?"
"No problems at all."
"How does it know there's construction?"
"Then how will it get me around the construction?"
"Just drive until the road closes and then turn anywhere. The thing will automatically recalculate and give you new directions."
This did not sound good to me. Drive in the dark to a closed road. Then turn anywhere in these twisting subdivisions that have no way out and this thing would still tell me how to get where I was going? Was it possible it would recalculate and then tell me to turn around and head back where I came from? (In my husband's defense, he claimed later that evening that he didn't tell me to drive all the way up to the construction. He said he told me to drive to 46, which is a main road, and turn. Then the thing would recalculate. I never heard that part.)
I headed out to my car and Terry followed me so that he could install his new toy for me. He positioned it on the windshield where I could see it clearly. I could see it so clearly it was almost positioned directly in front of me. So I asked him to move it. He put it behind and under the rearview mirror, but then fretted that I wouldn't be able to see it. Why did I need to see it? I thought the thing was supposed to talk to me. He finally got it into a position we were both comfortable with and then happily sent us on our way. I'm not sure if he was waving goodbye at me or at his toy. As I pulled out of the driveway and turned, the screen on the unit swirled to show the new direction. It confused me and made me dizzy, so I resolved I wouldn't look at it again. I had two good ears. It would tell me where to go. But I also had a backup plan. Just in case ...