Thank God it’s Friday, and thank God for GPS. When I was 16 and started driving there was a thing called a pay phone. I used a pay phone many times to stop and either ask for directions or to let someone know I was so lost, that if I could just get back home I would stay there. Kids today don’t know what a payphone is. I suspect there’s a pay phone in the Smithsonian today. I am at that age that tools I used to depend on to find my way around have become relics of days gone by.
I have always had difficulty with directions. To this day, I can’t tell you which end of the mall the Belk store occupies. Whenever I come to a dead end on a country road and I have to choose between turning left or right, I am at a loss. Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That’s pretty much my only option.
Do you remember when it was a fad to put a tennis ball on your car’s antennae? I thought that was a good idea. One day I slid a tennis ball down the antennae of my car. I felt confident that when I needed to find my car in the parking lot I would be in good shape. Unfortunately, the next time I walked out of Wal-Mart to my car, approximately 10 other people had the same idea. After initiating the process of elimination by walking towards each tennis ball, seeming to float in mid-air, I finally found the one that was attached to my car. Next time I will use a tennis ball that’s a different color than the rest.
Before there was a “Tom-Tom” or a “Garmin,” I usually would drive around for a while and then tell myself, “I really didn’t want to go to that party anyway.” Even today, with the blessing of “Google Maps,” “Waze,” and “Mapquest,” G.P.S. basically means “Go Park Somewhere” because you’re not even catching on to the directions the nice British lady is laying out for you.
Having a sense of direction is important; figuratively as well as literally. I have struggled with both kinds. Fortunately, my lack of a sense of direction has given way to a robust sense of humor. I have learned to laugh at myself; consequently, I laugh a lot. As far as finding my way, I am still recalculating.