The Perpetually Lost Girl

It’s a well known fact that I have a horrible sense of direction, and I rely solely on my GPS. As my mother likes to remind me, I can’t find my way out of a paper bag. I don’t put the effort into learning the roads to a particular city. The way I see it, within a few years I might move out of that city, so why should I go through all the trouble? As a result, I will learn one way to get to all the necessary places in life and stick with it, till death (or traffic detours) do us part. I consider myself “The Perpetually Lost Girl”.

“Just take out a map and look at the street intersections. You’ll figure it out!” says my ever-so-helpful mother in her Italian New Yorker accent.

To combat my ineptitude, my mother would play the terrifying “Give me Directions Home” game with me when I was a teenager. It works like this: randomly, on the way home from local stores, malls, and events from my youth, my mother would only take the car where I directed her. I still have nightmares about this game and the panic it held for me.

When I go on road trips with my friends, I never offer to drive. Ever. Because if they all fell asleep and left me to my own devices, we’d end up in Georgia when we meant to get to New Orleans. This sense of direction really didn’t bode well for me in my customer-service oriented position at the Symphony. People would call in all the time and ask for directions to get from their area of town to our various concert halls or ticket office.

“So I can take 240 West, and then I turn right off of Poplar, right? Or do you mean your office is located East of I-10?”
“Well, ma’am, you see…uh, why don’t I point you to our website where you can see the map on Google?”
“What’s Google?”
“. . . [facepalm]”

When I first moved to Memphis and started taking music gigs in Arkansas, Mississippi, and other areas of Tennessee, I really had a hard time adjusting to the idea that I needed to drive myself to far away places. I carpool as often as I can with my musician friends to save gas and enjoy companionship, but also because I’m secretly afraid I will get lost and never make it to my gig. It’s ridiculous, I know.

My husband refused to baby me. No matter how often I’d beg for him to accompany me to unknown locations, he would just say “no”, help me map out my course, and we’d print out a map for me to use. I would attempt to drive and stare at the map and read the step by step directions, cursing Google Maps for telling me to turn right when the road merely curved. Occasionally I’d second guess myself and pull over in some run down gas station, call my husband, and cry. This all sounds really primitive (and pathetic) now, but about two years ago I didn’t have the tools to make me confident or give me peace of mind. He ended up giving me a GPS as a present to cut down on the amount of traffic-related anxiety calls he’d receive. It makes me feel confident that I’ll get to my gigs. When it malfunctions or thinks I’m in Chicago when I’m really in Arkansas, I might still call my husband and cry, but normally I’m okay.

I’ve been happily in love with my GPS for over a year. I’ve gone from being The Perpetually Lost Girl to being the Slightly Less Lost Girl. My GPS’ name is Colonel Casey, and he does his job well. Until self-driving cars come into existence (which is a GREAT idea, thank you Minority Report for opening my eyes), I know I will be relying on Colonel Casey. I’m okay with it.

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