NORMAN — Some people are blessed with an unerring sense of direction and never get lost or at least they delude themselves into believing they never get lost.
Others have the knack for nearly always taking the wrong turn and wandering for miles on end without the slightest idea of where they are. Eventually, something familiar appears on the horizon and they are finally able to reach their destinations unscathed, except for the frayed nerves and stomach-clenching panic most are reluctant to acknowledge.
For some inexplicable reason, men tend to fall into the first group. They are blessed with the intestinal certitude that they can find their way around anywhere. And, eventually, they can and do so… after the passage of time and the considerable consumption of gas.
I ask you, who gets lost with the aid of directions from well-meaning strangers, a perfectly well drawn map or a GPS? Answer, c’est moi.
This intrepid navigator with map in hand, had us trapped and lost on the main drag in Tucson, Arizona — driving back and forth between the mountains at one end of town and who knows what at the other. Yet even under those conditions, Hubby was adamantly against stopping to ask for directions.
I was ready to shout out the window to anyone who would listen, “Say, buddy! How do you get out of this here town?”
Getting lost in a large, unfamiliar city is understandable. Getting lost in the pitch black can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face darkness of rural back roads is: distressing; a touch scary (as in visions of masked assassins behind every tree); childish, with several moments of I-want-my-Hubby or perhaps-I should-call-911.
I’ve done the last one.
Well, actually, I chased a police car until he pulled into his driveway. I blocked him in and jumped out of my car. “Please help me. I’m lost!” she said in a most pathetic and frazzled voice. Fortunately, he didn’t draw his gun, cuff me or haul me off to the nearest padded cell. Instead, once he got over the shock of the situation, I followed him to the police station and he called the number of my destination. (This was before everyone and their dog owned a mobile phone.)
Recently, traffic was backed up because of an accident which stretched from one town to the next. Since I missed the line for the patience gene, the decision was made to take a detour and arrive home in a timely manner. No teeth-grinding wait until the bodies and sundry other things were cleared away for yours truly. Nope.
With the built in GPS turned on, an alternate route was taken even though the road was dark and unfamiliar. “The GPS will get me home,” she thought with just a twinge of worry.
Unfortunately, street lights do not line country roads and all too many roads on the GPS map are dead ends. The trick is to drive, search the map for any familiar county roads and not run off into a ditch. The most important rule is to stick to paved roads because you have a better chance of coming across a familiar road or area.
About 45 minutes into my “short cut” I called Hubby. “I’m lost, but I don’t worry. I was almost home and the farm road is torn up and blocked. I took another road, heading east. Hope I don’t end up in Louisiana. See you later.” As it turned out, it was much later.
This incident was a teaching moment: “Never stray from the known path no matter how big, bad and snarled the traffic ahead of you may be. Stay put, even if you have to sit and wait for an extended period of time, which will always be shorter than getting lost in the hinterlands.”
Good advice. Too bad this epiphany came after two hours and heaven only knows how many gallons of wasted gas.
Elizabeth is an author and freelance writer. Visit her website, www.elizabethcowan.com. Check out her new novel, “The Dionysus Connection” on Amazon.