My best friends are Roger Easton, Sr., Ivan Getting, and Bradford Parkinson and I’ve never met them. Why are they my BFFs? They are credited with inventing the GPS, an invention I value more than my microwave. You see, I have no sense of direction. Never had, and probably never will. Mileage markers, maps, and directional signs are Greek to me. Many, like my husband Jeff, can tell you how to get anywhere, even if they’ve only been there once…20 years ago!
It’s exasperating for both my husband Jeff and me. Jeff can’t understand why I don’t remember how to get to a place we’ve been to many times. He tries to make it easy by giving me general guidelines like north-to-south highways are odd-numbered, with lowest numbers in the east, and highest in the west; east-to-west highways are typically even-numbered, with the lowest numbers in the north, and highest in the south. HUH?
Being directionally challenged isn’t limited to driving. At a restaurant. I’ve been known to get lost returning to my table after using the restroom and, on occasion, spending too much time looking for my car in a parking lot. When shopping, I make sure to enter and exit through the same door taking note of what’s near that door. When I see my ‘markers’, I know I’m headed in the right direction. Parking on the streets of West Chester, Media, and Philadelphia pose a challenge and out of the question are parking garages and the Philly airport.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery. Is it medical? A lack of concentration? Genetic? That’s it – GENETIC! Another thing I can blame on my parents. I remembered a story about my Dad at his first Holy Communion. He was tasked with leading his classmates from the pew to the altar and was halfway out the back door before being stopped by Sister Mary-Don’t-Mess-With-Me. Okay, that was purposeful, not directional. My Mom knew Philly like a taxi driver and my Marine brother survived being dropped into a forest with a candy bar and a compass. If not them, maybe other family members.
At a family dinner, I asked “Who considers themselves directionally challenged?”, and thirteen hands went up. Male, female, older, younger – every hand. I shot an ‘I told you so’ look at my husband and breathed a sigh of relief. It was in my genes, not my head.
Everything has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages of being directionally challenged are well known. The advantages, though few, are important. Directionally challenged people are adventurous. Taking unexpected detours can result in finding places you never would have found if you weren’t lost. Into exercise? Getting lost while walking or running can add miles, therefore improving your health. The one I like best – being asked by a perfect stranger for directions, giving them and then watching the person drive off…on an adventure of their own.