My Bad

I have a confession to make.
It’s not a bad, terrible, skeletons in the closet kind of confession. After all, this is not that kind of blog. But if you’re going to be reading here, this is something you should know about me.

I am directionally challenged.

This is not a well known  or well established mental disorder. In fact, I may be the only human to suffer from such a thing but suffer I do. As does anyone who is along for the ride.

Let me elaborate.

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where thanks to the resolute planning of the founders of that little town, everything streetwise is laid out in a very predictable, very organized grid.  The originating coordinates in the downtown streets   start at ‘0’ and count upwards and outwards from there. So, when you have a street address of  4646 South 3500 East, well, you can pinpoint on the grid exactly where that is and make logical sense of which way to drive to get there. Add to that the fact that surrounding the SLC valley there are mountain ranges, and any Salt Laker worth her salt knows that Mt. Olympus sits at the East of the valley offering a constant reference and resource for which way is what way.

This is not to say that I cannot get lost in Salt Lake City, because as I have previously divulged, I have a little directional problem. It’s a bit like dyslexia of roads. I have no sense of where I am going or where I have been when it comes to navigating streets. Seriously. There is no internal compass in my brain. I am always and forever lost whilst driving.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can be taught and as we’ve traveled from city to city over the years, I have managed to ultimately triumph over the maze of streets and figure out how to get around. Not always well, mind you, but I can get it done.

The last 4 years of living in The Netherlands has helped me kind of forget this embarrassment. Relying chiefly on public transport or my bicycle (which means ALWAYS taking the scenic route) I haven’t had to opportunity to befuddle or confound myself in all that time.

But no more.

I am now doing my darnedest in the Midwest, where the town is NOT laid out in a predictable grid and there is no orienting mountain range to ground my equilibrium.  And by doing my darnedest I mean to say I am constantly lost.

To illustrate this point I give you a sampling of Andrewisms from the backseat as we  drive.

“Oh, Mom! What are you doing?”

“You goofed! You goofed! Oh, mom, you goofed”

“Are we turning around AGAIN?”

“Oh, man… this always happens”

At this point you are likely thinking, “why doesn’t the girl just get a GPS system for her navigational needs?”.  And I answer your internal query and tell you: “I have one”.  

Last week I was using said system to drive to a neighboring city to do a bit of shopping. I had an address and a general notion of how to follow the map on the screen. What I didn’t have was the ability to read the map, drive the roads and watch for speed traps. So, for all my effort to get to my destination without turning around a bazillion times, I got a ticket.  When the officer handed me my citation I thanked him graciously (that IS what you do, right?) and then told him “I’m not from here, you know… I’m just trying to find my way…”

He replied “It’s all good. Just slow down”.

Sage advice, really, for the girl who just doesn’t know where she’s going.

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14 thoughts on “My Bad

  1. So, your nav system doesn’t TALK to you, telling you when to turn and which way to turn? You need a new nav system, methinks.

  2. Oh, Jenn, I feel for you. I’m married to someone who’s directionally challenged, and who has an internal radar for finding the absolutely scariest neighborhood in any new city we enter.

    Andrew just cracks me up, though.

    I think actually there is a road dyslexia of sorts. In any case – hugs.

  3. Goofball says:

    well you clearly just get lost to keep Andrew entertained?

  4. patois says:

    I can only live on the west coast or the east coast. Where I am in relation to the ocean is the only way I make any kind of directional sense.

  5. Lynda says:

    My kids learned from moving to various cities, We aren’t lost we’re “on an adventure”.

  6. I too am directionally challenged. Unlike you though, I’ve parked my butt in the same city my ENTIRE life, which means I rarely get lost ‘here’.

    Take me anywhere else and it’s not pretty.

    Maps don’t help. I look at a map and get more lost.

    GPS MIGHT help, except I tend to tune things out and I’m almost sure I’d tune out that voice and miles down the road either realize I had been tuning it out or worry that I had been tuning it out but not know for sure if I missed something, which would drive me nuts!

    My boys, who are now 25 and 19, love to tell stories of our travels. These stories almost always involve tales of “The time Mom got us lost in….fill in the blank” because, frankly, we’ve been lost in some of the finest cities and towns in the country.

    Instead of looking at this as a negative, I tend to look at it as a ‘family tradition’. I’m all about making new family traditions 🙂

  7. Knowing you all these years, I still had no idea you were directionally challenged so probably never told you my tales of woe when it comes to following maps. Ex-hubby and I were crossing the U.S. via directions his folks obtained from AAA in about 1967 when the interstate system wasn’t yet complete. Somewhere in the midwest I discovered an interstate going the very same place as the cow trail we were on and convinced said ex-hubby to go the 25 miles necessary to connect with this freeway only to find it was a “proposed interstate” therefore meriting the interstate symbol. After tracing our detour back to the cow trail which took us 50 miles out of our way, I’m surprised he trusted me to ever read a map again. On another trip, in Virginia this time, I found Westpoint on the map and convinced him it was the military academy when he was sure that famous site was actually in NY. We did find Westpoint but it was a small town on the west point of the bay.

  8. I am so sorry.. but the fact that you still got lost with a GPS had me burst out laughing so suddenly that I startled my children. Hang in there. Eventurally, directionally challenged or not, things will become familiar.

    • mojenn says:

      You’ll love this one as an addendum then. Yesterday, I took my car to the dealership for some touch up work they promised when we purchased it a few weeks ago. I managed to find my way there without turning around (okay, I turned around once!) but on the way “home” from the area got completely discombobulated and turned around (and around and around and around) but kept my cool, kept on driving… figuring ultimately I would recognize where I was and be able to navigate to my neighborhood and more familiar territory.
      Well….. I found Illinois. NOT HOME. Freakin’ Illinois and I am still not exactly sure how I got there….

      ~jenn

      • Judy Gwilliam says:

        Reminds me of getting a phone call from you late one night many years ago when you were “lost”…and you were in one of the worst neighborhoods in Dallas you could have possibly found. Finding Illinois, that’s a much better place to get lost in. Obviously you made it home again. Did the GPS help you get home? We used our GPS most of the time while we were at your house a few weeks ago. The one time I didn’t, I had to turn around once when Emma and I went to the store by ourselves. But we made it there and made it back to your house. It’s all a grand adventure.

  9. Judy Gwilliam says:

    Why does the date stamp on my reply show time in the future? The time on my reply just sent says July 31, 2009 3:13 pm. And it’s really 10:13 am. Confusing.

    • mojenn says:

      The clock (my clock too!) is still set on European time. It’s not the future, it’s just GMT +1
      :))
      ~jenn

  10. jodifur says:

    I grew up where I live now and still use my GPS to get anywhere. We are moving in a week to ten minutes and away and I know it’s going to take me 6 months to get home without my GPS.

    So it is not just you.:)

  11. […] here’s a little something I forgot about driving lots (besides having forgotten all the rules, apparently); driving lots means having the radio on.  Another something I didn’t do (much) […]

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