Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turn right at the cute purses

My sense of direction leaves a great deal to be desired. When I look at a map, I have to turn it to face the way I'm headed. If I turn the corner, I have to turn the map.

It wasn't till I was in college that I realized I was so directionally-challenged. I could only get to my class buildings from where I was used to starting. This meant I only knew where building B stood in relation to building A.

So if I randomly had to go to a lab or meeting in the evening or on a weekend in building C, I still had to take my normal route. A to B to C. Or have someone tell me how to get to C.

I didn't even know I was doing it. I was walking with a friend one day and she asked me why we were taking such a circuitous path to get to our destination. And when I explained the way I got places...

Ridiculous, I know. But then again, when I studied in Rome, I had a friend who could only find things if she started at the Pantheon. So I suppose everything is relative.

So when I know my route to a place, that's the route I take. I don't deviate. And I'm very visual. I will look for the pink house on the corner and know that's where I turn right. If you chop down the big, pretty magnolia tree that I'm used to seeing on the block before I need to turn left, I'm in trouble.

I got directions from Jenny to a nearby bank the other day. It turns out that though our office is downtown, she doesn't know the numbers or letters of the streets around us. But what she does know is how to give the kind of directions I follow perfectly.

"Take a right when you come out of our building. And then you cross the street, and you might even cross another street. I'm not sure. But keep going straight until you get to the corner with the vendor at that big intersection. The one who sells the really cute purses. Take a right at the cute purses. And it's maybe another block and a half. You'll see a Cosi and it's across the street."



  1. I also understand directions like this perfectly well, but forced myself to give bizarrely precise directions after severe mockery by male friends.

    So now, I'll say things like, "You'll come up on the NW corner, head east for a bit, and the sushi place will be 4 doors past the funny-smelling convenience store."

    I am normal.

  2. I have a pretty decent sense of direction, but I can't give directions. My sense of direction is this amorphous thing in my head that usually tells me where to go that doesn't help me help other people get somewhere.

  3. I have a really strong sense of direction. Point North and provide an address and I'm good.

    My sister, on the other hand, calls our friend in Chicago on a weekly basis for directions from her office to home. And she can't comprehend the interstate system - you know, N-S odd numbered (I35), E-W even numbered (I10).

    I tend to include landmarks when giving directions too. It's more fun.

  4. I'm so glad I fit in with this crowd! When I'm asked for directions, I give lots of detail just like that - not hard facts like street names and numbers - nope stores, restaurants, gas stations, billboards.

    I think it comes from developing my sense of direction from excessive trips to the mall when I was a kid.

  5. hwk: if you sister lives in chicago, the general rule that odd numbered interstates go N-S, and the even numbered interstates go E-W does not apply. For large parts of Chicagoland, even numbered interstates (I-94, I-294) go N-S, and odd numbered interstates (I-55, I-290) go E-W.

    Chicagoland interstates can confuse anyone.

  6. Dag - You're bilingual!

    VVK - Even so, you can get where you're going. And I'm sure you're better at describing than you think you are.

    HKW - I totally envy you! It's such a great skill to have.

    DCup - Wow - so we could totally give each other directions! (And then check them on Mapquest).

  7. Oh, I'm with you. I spent the weekend visiting another town and took a wrong turn & had to backtrack more times than I care to confess. I left to return home and took three wrong turns in a row, it took me a half hour to get on the freeway. Yikes.


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