Friday, November 16, 2007


Last night I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner. We negotiated a bit and then just decided to meet at her house (in North Amsterdam) for dinner and then we'd hang out, which was the purpose of our meeting. I haven't seen her much lately and it would (have been) nice to catch up.

Short story, I left late and then got lost. I left late because the DVD player wouldn't shut off until I deleted the right (mysterious) amount of old stuff from the memory. It's a strange machine. I like having it, but it behaves oddly. It's not an intuitive machine. (It's a Philips for anyone keeping score at home.) Serves us well, but the learning curve has been painfully steep.

When I looked on the map before I set out, it looked like a straight shot, but suddenly I was way off course. I had a map with me and I kept pulling over and looking at it. (I was on the bike and it was cold and dark.) At one point I stopped every block or so and found myself on the map. I was on page 75, next block page 60, next block page 58. It was like some Twilight Zone episode where I was being played with -- or a Dutch-city version of the Blair Witch Project. You know how they keep going in circles? I called and said that I thought I knew where I was, but I didn't know how to get to her and I had run out of energy to try.

I headed home, picked up Chinese food on the way and spent the rest of the evening knitting and watching TV. Fred was out of town, so I could watch what I wanted. It turned out to be a very nice evening. As I said to my friend, Venessa, "I always have fun. I'm good at that."

When I was 17, I ventured out a few times on my own in the car to either Fort Worth or Dallas. I'm thinking of a juried piano thing I had to drive myself to in Fort Worth. I knew the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area very well. Small streets, familiar buildings. But when I had to go either east to Fort Worth or west to Dallas, I was completely out of my element. I asked my mother, "If I take Main Street to Airport Freeway, do I go left or right onto the highway?"

"You go east on 183," my mother said.

"But is that left or right?"

"It depends on where you're coming from," she replied.

"From here? Is it left or right from here?"

"It's east on 183."

She wanted me to learn something about driving in the larger world. Yes, it's a valuable lesson to learn how to read signs, but she was speaking a completely different language. Pissed, I drove off. I stopped several times and asked directions. I drove for miles in the wrong direction. I arrived two hours late. I had no clue how to read a map or what anything looked like.

These days I plan pretty well so that I don't usually get lost. I carry a map. I have a cell phone. I look it up on the Internet. Still, there are times when it just feels like fate is working against me. I remain calm when I get lost and it's sort of enjoyable if it's not below freezing and I'm on a bike. It's like a puzzle.

My parents didn't always know how to explain things like that to me. I would state clearly that whatever it was needed to explained this way (read: my way), but they would insist on telling me their way. Same idea as speaking really loudly to foreigners because (dammit) they will understand it if I speak loudly and enunciate enough.

Before I hung up with the friend last night, I said, "I sort of feel like a dork getting lost like this. But you know me; I'm not going to spend too much time on that. Let's get together soon when I have a chaperon."

What can you do?

The most important thing I learned in MBA school was that while there are somethings that I don't do well naturally (statistics, read maps, put up with cheaters) , there are some things that I do really well that other people can't do. It's one of those things that might better have been learned in kindergarten. But I'm really glad I learned it at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Andy, it's high time you get yourself TomTom. Mind you, I even can get lost WITH it, but most of the times I arrive since I bought it. So...