Directionally Challenged

I understand the concept of North, East, South, and West. I memorized “Never Eat Soggy Wheaties”. But no, you didn’t read that wrong, I did say concept. I am directionally challenged, always have been since before I learned to drive. So to me, direction is merely a concept. If you give me directions, please don’t say “turn North on Main” because what I really need to hear is “turn right at the corner of CVS and Lu and Carl’s” otherwise, I will never find my destination. And when I give directions, you can be sure there will be many landmarks.

This past Christmas we received a very generous gift from my in-laws: a portable GPS system. Along with the gift, however, my family took the opportunity to get one more fit of giggles over my most infamous driving blunder.

It was a simple plan, really. DW and I were engaged and he was desperately trying to find a job in Texas so that we could be closer to our family. He had an interview in Houston (not exactly what I had in mind, but Houston seemed better than Michigan at the time). I decided to drive from San Antonio to Houston to pick him up at the airport, have a nice dinner and then spend some time with him between his interview the next. The Tortoise already had arrangements for the weekend, the car was packed, work had been figured out and of course, I had DW’s “mix-tape” to sing along to in the car. (We are so 80’s, I know!) I was totally geeked and ready!

It was a beautiful sunny day. The wind blew through the car as I hummed along the highway. I had very detailed written directions for once I got into Houston, but until then, it was still a little sketchy. I just knew I was supposed to head towards my friend’s house. Or was it away from my friend’s house? Anyway, I zoomed along for a couple of hours, singing and day-dreaming. But I knew I should be getting pretty close to seeing signs for Houston. Afterall, I had already been driving over two hours. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen a single one. In fact, it seemed like everything outside the car appeared to be dryer than I remembered, especially when I should have been getting closer to the coast. Shouldn’t there be seagulls or something gliding through the air? Were those vultures I was seeing along the road-side? Cactus? Now I was a little panicked. I called my BFF, ED, and told her my concern. Of course her first question was, “Which direction on the highway are you going?” It was determined immediately that I was indeed driving in the complete OPPOSITE direction. The next epiphany was that the next highway sign said EL PASO. (For those of you that have an understanding of geography, you probably realize this was very bad). To make matters worse, there weren’t many bars left on my cell phone. I was going to lose reception at any moment. We had to make a plan, and fast, because DW was expecting me to pick him up at the airport very soon. ED said she would handle it and that I should turn around as soon as possible and just head home.

Shortly after that call, my phone went dead. Then the tears came. There were enough tears to hydrate the entire deserts of El Paso. It seemed like double the time on the way back, but as soon as I started to see signs for San Antonio again, my phone rang.

“Hello?” I sobbed.

“Em, you okay?” DW gasped.


“Then why are you still crying? You should be almost home by now.”

“I’m crying because I’m almost home by now….sob…sob…sniff…instead of at the airport!”

DW tried to convince me to go home. It would be almost midnight by the time I’d reach Houston and he already took a cab to the hotel. He was relieved I was okay. It was quite a shock to be paged to the red phone the minute he got off the plane. His first thought was that I had been in an accident.

“I’m not going home!” I snapped. “The bags are packed, I don’t work this whole weekend and we haven’t seen each other in almost a month. I’m still coming!”

That was pretty much the end of the conversation. We were still in the courting stage, so there was no point in arguing this with me yet. He went and got dinner while I ate something on the road. It was close to midnight by the time I got to the hotel. But I got there. Believe it or not, DW never laughed at me that entire weekend.

Now I let him do all the driving…or use GPS. But after ten years, that story still gets passed around at the dinner table. DW does laugh now.

Okay, and so do I.

4 thoughts on “Directionally Challenged

  1. hehe… reading this made me SO want to go on a proper roadtrip – one with no fixed route or particular time frame, of course LOL

    Good that you guys can all laugh at it now. Especially, since you can’t get them to stop telling the story 😉

    … and I totally sing in the car too!

  2. So funny! I have to get directions the same way. I don’t trust those GPS’! Last time I used one I wound up driving in Midtown Manhattan while it kept recalculating. Chinatown is not exactly low-stress driving!

  3. hahahaha thanks for this wonderful read. i laughed so hard and must embarassingly admit that i too have a missing direction gene…aah the hours i have wasted going in the wrong direction in life LOL. glad you made back from el paso!

    1. It is certainly something I won’t be able to live down in my family – but I have gotten much better. Moving to a new city actually helped believe it or not. I had to learn street names instead of landmarks!

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