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Article: Directionally Challenged - - GPS, phone apps, maps... and you still get lost?

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Directionally Challenged

These days there are all kinds of ways to keep from getting lost on the highways and city streets. From GPS units mounted in your car, to phone apps that will talk back to you and actually tell you when to turn. There are still the old standby folded maps available at most convenience stores, if that’s what you prefer. But, if technology lets you down, you can always ask someone for directions.

If you think you’re close to your destination and still can’t seem to find it, the best person to ask directions from is … the pizza guy. If you spot a pizza delivery place, just stop in and ask. I’ll bet they know every street in the area.

For some people, finding their way to the repair shop is more than a little confusing. These directionally challenged individuals can’t make it out of their own driveway without getting lost, which has me wondering if all the technology they build into today’s cars is just a way to keep some goofball from becoming a fatality at the next intersection. (Mainly, because they don’t know their left from their right.) Maybe their little GPS voice should try to get their attention by screaming at them, or just go to full out “autonomous control” and drive the car for them. But, I’m sure…even then…they’ll find a way to screw that up too.

About an hour or so before closing one day, I got a call from a guy who wanted to drop off his car. “Sure, no problem,” I told him. This wasn’t the first call from this guy; he’s been calling for days, and every time he calls he must be thinking he’s talking to someone new, because he has to tell his entire story about his car all over again.

Like a lot of these types of phone calls, you never know if they’ll actually show up or not. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes if they do… you wish they didn’t.

In the meantime it was back to work as usual. It wasn’t long before the phone rang again. Same guy, same story… weird yes, but for this guy… pretty predictable.

He asked, “Now, you’re going to be there, right?”

“Yes, I’ll be here, but I’m not waiting all night for ya.”

“Not a problem, I’ll be there on the double,” he hurriedly answered.

Closing time was getting closer and closer. The phone rang again. “Say man, where are you?” the caller asked. It’s that same guy again. I gave him the address (again), and he thanked me and hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang again. It’s him again. “So what are you near?” I gave him the name of the businesses on the corner of the main street and told him we were a block east of the intersection. He hung up again. A few minutes later he called back. “I’m at the convenience store at the corner and I don’t see you. Where you at?”

Again, I gave him the address and told him “again” that we are a block east of the intersection. (Seems this guy couldn’t remember anything.) He would hang up and call back…over and over, asking the same questions.

Finally, after about the 15th phone call, instead of just hanging up, he asked, “OK, so how far “up” the street do I have to go?”

I had stop and gather my thoughts for a second. I really was getting tired of this. “We are east of the intersection. Up doesn’t tell me anything. You need to be a little more specific, the convenience store is on the south-east corner of the intersection. Now go east one block.”

“So I go “down” the street?”

“Which way is down?”

“I don’t know, I’m not from around here.” (Obviously he’s not from around here. He’s probably from some nearby planet or something, maybe one that uses “up” for east and “down” for west. I really don’t know.) Actually, I think this guy could have gotten lost in his own backyard.

Looks like I’ll have to lead this one in. I’m going to have to get creative because this guy doesn’t have a clue which “up” or “down” to take. It’s a good thing we’re not back in the early pioneering days when people crossed the vast uncharted prairies with nothing more than the sun to guide them. No doubt this guy would have been lost on the trail somewhere. At least you’d be able to find him… just look for the buzzards circling overhead.

“Let’s try this,” I told him, while trying to keep my composure, “If you’re standing at the corner with the convenience store on it. You’re only a block away. Just go east one block. We’re on the north side of the street.”

“Is that left or right?” he asked.

“Are you standing in front of the store?”


“Do you see a veterinarian hospital in front of you?”

“Yea, it’s on the other side of the street.”

“OK, you’re facing north, East is to your right side… go in that direction about a block and you’ll see us on the north side of the street… that would be on your left.”

I hung up the phone expecting him any minute… only seconds went by… the phone rang again… it’s the girl friend this time. “What’s that address again?”

Apparently these two were meant for each other. Neither one of them could figure out where they were, or where they’re going. All said and done, it took nearly an hour for these two to figure out how to navigate one city block. (I almost had to break out the orange flashlights like they use at the airports.)

I know I’m not the only one who has run across these “directionally challenged” customers. I hear stories like this from everyone. A good friend of mine who owns a shop just off a four lane highway told me an interesting one. One of his usual (as he put it) wacky type customers walked all the way to his shop to pick up his car after it had been repaired. He paid for the repair, and asked for directions to an address he wasn’t sure of.

He told the guy, “Oh sure, it’s on the main highway about 4 miles south of here. You’ll have to go about a half mile north to get to the nearest place to turn back south.”

The guy thanked him and left. Moments later my friend realized something rather strange about the traveler… he wasn’t taking his car… he was on foot….and walk he did…north to the intersection, U-turned and then south past his shop.

My friend said to me, “Why he didn’t take his car, I’ll never know. The address he gave me is on this side of the highway. Now he’ll have to walk across all 4 lanes of traffic again.”

Repairing cars can be a challenge, and yes… sometimes just getting the job to the shop, or giving directions can be an even bigger one.




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