One morning many years ago, my little brother and I embarked on a trip to the local
miniature golf course. He had been invited to a party there and, unfamiliar with its
precise location, I decided to conduct a "dry run" in order to avoid the risk of subsequent
disorientation which, unbeknownst to myself, I was about to become infamous for among
my maternal family.
I was painfully aware of being "directionally challenged" well before this ride of
terror. I had discussed the route I was going to take with my Mom and seemed fairly
certain I could complete the mission without incident. Indeed, I did not make use
of a cell phone we had at the time and drove off, my brother in tow, into the rising
I discovered the locale with relative ease. It was the return home that proved disastrous.
Bolstered by the early hour sparseness of traffic, I courageously (or foolishly) decided
to take an alternate route that my Mom had suggested. It appeared simple enough and
I had vague recollections of accompanying her on drives in which she'd taken the same
Half an hour later, I was on a seemingly interminable stretch of highway without any
viable escape. For what felt like an eternity, I frantically searched for a turn-off
in vain as I simultaneously endeavored to reassure my little brother who, understandably,
was quite nervous! I thought to myself, "Being the adult in the situation is arduous
and I fear I am not doing a good job of it as I am frightened out of my wits!" At
the rate we were going, we would be in a neighboring state soon.
When you are in a high pressure situation, bizarre thoughts can invade your mind.
Amidst the din of my own clamoring heart, I thought of a comment I had previously
heard regarding the alleged, invisible "compasses" that our noses are equipped with.
I never believed the theory, yet in my own mind, any internal compass I may have possessed
had been irrevocably broken many years ago. Even so, I was clinging to that flimsy
premise, hoping that my defective nose compass would lead me to a gas station. I was
considering the possibility that I may have to knock on people's doors to beg the
use of their phone--if I could just find a way off the threatening strip of asphalt
I was on.
At last my eyes came upon a gasoline station. I imagine it appeared like a sparkling
jewel of salvation to me as I made my way into its parking lot and asked to use the
phone. As I called my Mom and explained to her the situation, I could feel relief
flooding my senses until I realized that I had no idea where I was. I turned to the
clerk and asked her where exactly I found myself.
"Mexico," she replied.
Not really, but we were quite far from home!
We were later picked up, but long thereafter I continued to hear my brother's haunted
refrain about how I'd lost us that morning, made more potent by certain mocking comments
on the part of extended relatives who were privy to my horrible error in driving judgment.
One uncle asked, "Why didn't she just make a right turn somewhere?"
Brilliant, but not especially helpful after the fact.
Is there a cure for the directionally challenged? Perhaps.
1. Forsake all notions of driving and hire a fearless chauffeur, preferably one
who has braved New York City streets as a cab driver and has developed a massive,
It has been reported that cab drivers weaving their way through labyrinthine streets
undergo a change in brain chemistry: a "relative redistribution of grey matter," according
to a British study.
Wherever your particular grey matter is located, I will be more than pleased if you
can get me from Point A to Point B without trauma of any kind.
2. Invest in a GPS system
I do not care if your car is worth less than your GPS system, it may be wise to purchase
one if, like me, an early morning commute can turn into a veritable fight to keep
yourself within city limits. If you do not own a newer vehicle, such a device (also
known as a GPS Receiver) will cost between $200-$250. It is important to conduct research
in order to determine which GPS system would best suit your needs. (My needs would
include having the voice of an English male telling me, "Turn left here, darling;
turn right here, gorgeous. My, you are looking superb today!")
3. Never leave home.
Fairly self-explanatory. This is a perfect solution for those among us with hermit-like
4. Only use public transportation.
At least no one can point the finger at you and say, "You lost me on a crisp autumn
morning and I'll never get over it."
5. Make peace with the possibility that you shall get lost and never find your way
In actuality, you must make peace with the potential of occasionally losing your way.
However, it would be best if you first prepared yourself by becoming familiar with
major streets to guide you should you become lost.
Memorizing landmarks can also be helpful.
6. Only travel to places you've previously visited.
This is a particular "favorite" of mine if I wish to indulge my comfort zone, yet
I have recently ventured to other parts of the city with the aid of Mapquest and been
all the better for it despite nearly suffering multiple heart attacks in the process.
There is hope, my navigationally challenged friends. Happy driving!