28 June 2009

"Do you know the way to San Jose?" --Dionne Warwick



This week I stop by Large-Bookstore-Chain in Bowie with my coupon clutched in my hand, ready to buy a gift. But someone has beaten me to their one copy of said gift. So, I use the customer service desk's computer and the phone to locate and confirm another copy in Largo.

I am in the process of using the computer to map directions from the Bowie store address to the Largo store address, when a staffer walks up to me...

Helpful Initiative Man (Him): Do you need some help?

Me, gesturing to the computer: I've found that the Largo store has what I've been looking for, so I'm just trying to find out how to get there from here.

Him: I've been there... it's near the old Cap Center... Have you been there?

Me, hopeful: No...

Him: I've driven there, but I don't know the names of the streets.

Me, no longer hopeful: Mm.

Him, squinting: I can sort of see it... but I'm not sure I could tell you how to get there.

Me:

Him: I don't drive it often enough.

Me, wondering how long this conversation is going to go on: Ah.

Him: It's not that far from here, if you know how to get there...

Me, nodding with that sad half-smile, but not saying out loud "How the $%#@ are you helping?"

It is at this point that he thinks to employ his headset. Within 30 seconds he has found someone on staff who can, and does, give me directions to the Largo store.

Here's the thing: As ridiculous as this conversation is up to the point where he realizes he needs to draw on someone else' knowledge, I can't get mad at him. Partially, because his heart is in the right place. But mostly because this is pretty much how I give directions, too. Yeah, I suck.

It isn't that I don't want to be helpful. I do want to be helpful. It's just that I'm not good with all the details. So, though I may have been someplace a lot, if pressed, I'm likely to say very similar things...

Well... I think it's close to that good Chinese restaurant... is it Golden Lotus? Wait, Golden Dragon? Um, ...they have those giant eggrolls. Ever been there? Really good. Um... If you know that place, it's around the corner. *squinting* ...I ...think...

Yeah, FAIL. But this is why we have Google Maps, right?

I can remember a friend who thrived on details, giving me directions like this:

Friend: So, you're on Route 7 South, right?

Me, writing "7S": Okay...

Friend: You'll pass the Maaco and the ShopRite...

Me, not writing anything: Okay...

Friend: You'll see a Wendy's on the left...

Me, not writing anything: Okay...

Friend: You'll go through three lights: Butler, Clairmont, and Pinehurst.

Me, writing "-> 3 lights": Okay...

Friend: You go past where the old movie theater used to be.

Me: Where it USED TO BE?

Friend: Yeah. They tore it down. But you probably remember where it was.

Me, laughing: You're kidding, right?

Friend: No.

Me, laughing harder: I'm supposed to know where something used to be?

At least I'm not that bad.

15 comments:

PQ said...

I am HORRIBLE at giving directions...I don't even try anymore.

SingLikeSassy said...

Haha! I'm like this, too. I know how to get where I'm going, but I don't note landmarks and highway exits and mile markers and all that.

Narm said...

I don't like the direction this is heading.

(This comment brought to you by a 9 hour hangover)

Barbara said...

This is why they invented Mapquest and Google Maps and GPS systems. We shouldn't need to clutter our already crowded minds with street names and numbers of traffic lights.

Did you get what you wanted in Largo?

LBluca77 said...

Even when I have directions to a place I always end up singing in the car and get so distracted that I pass my destination.

Mike said...

"Me: Where it USED TO BE?"

This person would do good in St. Louis. Torn down landmarks and old street names (renamed) are standard directions around here.
"Take 12th street (Tucker avenue) to highway 40 (I64)."

Bilbo said...

I can get lost in a phone booth, so I never comment on anyone else's sense of direction, or ability to give same.

liferehab said...

I'm awful at giving directions, but I'm even worse at getting them. I can't remember how many times I've had to call the bf b/c I'm lost and when he asks where I am I say "by a tree... and a building... oh, there's another tree."

Little Ms Blogger said...

Worse directions I got were in Dublin.

Imagine you're in a foreign city where they drive on the other side of the road and you stop for directions in gas station.

Turn right at the big church and then a sharp left at the bar.

Seriously? OMG...that's all Dublin had.

My friend and I made it back to our hotel in one piece. We survived without his directions, but did note the church and bar. However, we noted the ones he mentioned the 10 other ones.

See, your direction giving is MUCH better.

Matt said...

I would constantly be lost if it wasnt for google maps.

but I'm a man so there's no way I would admit that in real life.

f.B said...

I always get stopped and asked for directions. But I almost never drive the city. So remembering which streets are one-way and such... yeah... not so good at that.

Herb of DC said...

Since I am mildly OCD (but the fun kind of OCD) I give excellent directions just in case you ever need them. I'm here to be helpful!

Titania said...

I am sure I am able to get lost in my own house, and not only I have zero sense of direction, but since I am impatient to hear directions, I get lost with those too. So, this is why I ended up paying for GPS system on my phone. Problem is, I still manage to get lost with those.

Felisa said...

This is why I'm obsessed with google maps. And I don't just look up directions, I take a look at the street view for every single turn... and the street before the turn so I'll be ready to turn. I suck at directions and I can't give people direction if my life depended on it.

lacochran said...

All: Thanks for weighing in. It's nice to know I'm in such good company. :)