Monday, January 5, 2009

Directionally Challenged

I am directionally challenged. It is a trait that I inherited from my mother. She used to say, "If you want to get lost, follow me." I have lived up to this genetic predisposition in spades.

I wasn't quite so bad when I was a newbie driver in New Jersey. I'd been riding in cars with others for years, and as a native, I knew when I was headed in the wrong direction. I'd take a jug-handle and head back the way I'd came, and within 10 minutes, I would have corrected the situation and be on my merry little way.

Then I moved to California. I had a leg up there too. The second year of my residency in Vacaville, I started working for Vacaville Tow as a dispatcher. Staring at a city map for the better part of 40 hours a week for a year straight, I had a general idea of where I was going. And as the town expanded, I kept up with the new roads. By the time I left the state, no one would even guess that I was completely lacking in directionality. Unless they knew me the year I lived in Mountain View. That year I worked three miles from home and I was lucky, daily, to not miss my cut-off for the apartment.

So, here I am now, for the last 2+ years in Texas. My directional disorder has expanded to epic proportions. This is mainly because I'm a suburbanite in the deep south countryside, but also because of the fact that until New Year's Eve, we've been a one car family for the entire time I've been here. And hubby, being the old-school Texan that he is, did all the driving whenever we would venture out together. At this point, directionally speaking, I'm screwed.

As it stands now, I get lost in strip malls ~ well, I would if I could find any strip malls.

The roads here, are unlike any that I've navigated (by the skin of my teeth) before. First of all, there's a whole lot of country. This equates to a whole lot of country roads. And let me tell you something about country roads around where I live ~ they're all numbered, and not sequentially. So just because the last road I passed was County Road 222, the next road will, in all likely-hood NOT be County Road 223, but quite possibly 387. And if I leave my county and go to the next county, their County Road 222 may or may not exist, but I assure you that it will not be in any way reminiscent of the other county's 222. Then there are Farm Roads, which are also numbered, but they maintain their number-name from county to county and tend to be (at least near where I live) four digits long. Then there are the main state and interstate highways of only two digits, but they have a bunch of 'not-quite' roads of the same name as those highways; like there's 90, but then there's Alternate 90. There's I-10, and then there's Spur 10.

And if you manage to make your way, in the correct direction, on any number of these number-named-mazes, you're still, usually, in the country. This leaves a lot to be desired in the way of landmarks... Do I turn right on (Austin) County Road 333 which is the third corn field on the left, or do I turn right on (Wharton) County Road 333 which is the fourth cotton field on the right? Or do I just take FM (farm road) 1963 to I-10 Eastbound and make my way into Houston, where there are many less of these numbered roads to make my directional-senses spin like a tornado, but many more narcissistic drivers who don't give a damn if they cut out in front of you and proceed to do 30 MPH less than you were driving ~ before you slammed on the brakes and prayed as quickly as possible that the big-rig who is so far up your ass that you want to give Mr. Trucker-Man some toilet paper cause he might as well wipe your hind end for you if he's that damned close behind you doesn't turn your Toyota into an accordion.

The other joyous thing about changing counties all the damned time, aside from being able to evade the county sheriff by simply jumping the line, is that they all have different speed limits ~ on the same road. If I go down Alt 90 in one county, it's 65 MPH ~ until I cross the county line, where for two miles it becomes 50 MPH and then after that initial two miles, it goes back up to 60 MPH. Guess where my out-of-state brother-in-law got his one and only speeding ticket for the entire road trip from (and back to) Oregon? Just guess... If you said, that one stretch of Alt 90, you've guessed correctly... 'magine that. I smell Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane just thinking about it.

The other thing that's a little frightening about driving around here, is that I don't have a passport, and there is one state highway that will take you to Mexico, rather quickly if you go South. It may not even be really quickly, but by the time my driving intuition kicks in and I realize I've gone the wrong way, (because most things here just look the same to me) it is wholly conceivable that I'd be in Mexico with no way to get back, since I wouldn't know how to do anything other than taking the legally approved route.

In other words, I've totally got my work cut out for me as far as learning how to get where I'm going in Texas. On the plus side, I'm a really good driver. Not sure how that works exactly. Great driver; gets lost in strip-malls... Lousy driver; walking road map?

I guess I'll take being directionally challenged. Chances are good that I won't die in a car accident, it'll just take me 45 minutes to get 5 miles down the road... it's better than the alternative. Registered & Protected


Brittany said...

LOL I feel so better now knowing 1. I am not the only one directionally challenged and 2. Texas roads are jacked!

The Mom said...

You lived in vacaville? I went to UC Davis just up the road...and I still live down the road from Mountain View... I wouldn't be able to give you directions though either!

Aria said...

Brittany ~ you said it sistah; Texas roads are jacked!

Mom ~ You betcha... 15 years of Vacaville, 1 year of Mountain View and 1 year of San Jose. I can get to the Safeway and Stanford Federal Credit Union in Mtn View. San Jose (I didn't drive there)... Call out a search party

kAyE said...

i can SO relate to this post. if i was a kitten and you want me to get lost, you need not go farther than dump me at your front door because i would never be able to find my way inside when you do that. tee hee.

The Retired One said...

I can so relate too! I was a home health nurse for quite a few years...driving a Yugo in Upper Michigan (where the snow height was frequently over the height of the tires!). When I called a patient to get directions to their house, they'd say: "you know the Maki farm,right? Well you turn past their big red barn and take their farm road past the Heidtman's tree farm road..."
Well, you get the idea. And I had to be there on time to give their insulin, for God's sake! That was before the GPS days. Then there was the time two sons of the lady I was visiting had to come and lift up my Yugo that was stuck. I had that little car until one went over the Mackinac Bridge. It was quite a media event in Michigan...they didn't know if the wind was so hard (and the car so small) that the car was blown off the bridge...or if the lady committed suicide. I know for sure it was suicide...she was probably lost and frustrated over directions.......................

Anonymous said...

I am also directionally challenged and am guaranteed to get lost no matter where I am going. New places I have to make a dry run and still I get lost. I had my GPS going in my home town and still spent an hour circling the home at which I was suppose to be attending a party. I guess if they called out for circling the wagons I would probably end up outside with the Indians. LOL