Monday, March 3, 2008

I should really learn to read a map.

Things I'm pretty good at: being compassionate.

Things I'm not very good at: giving directions.

The nature of the place that I work is such that I often run into people who are lost and need help getting to where they want to go. It's a very big and confusing place, and it took me at least two years of working there before I felt like I knew where things were. Of course at that point they started tearing down buildings and putting up new ones. Anyway, I always do my best to get them where they are going, or at least point them in the direction of an information desk.

However my directions often include a lot of pointing and vague hand waving gestures and oh so helpful comments like "You can't really see it - but the building is over there... if you take the road that's down there and just kinda curve around but don't curve all the way around, go straight... there should be a sign.... I think. Good luck!" Which is probably not as helpful as it could be. But I generally get them going in the right direction... more or less.

One day last week I was walking home for lunch, reading of course, and a woman called to me. I looked up and she said "Can you help me.", "Absolutely!" I replied walking towards her. But as soon as I could see her face it was clear she was crying. I had an overwhelming urge to hug her on the spot, but as it's generally not a good idea to hug strangers, I just kinda patted her arm and said "Oh Honey! What's wrong?"

"I'm lost... I've been driving around, and I don't know where I going." she's holding one of those spiral bound street-maps that I often see in the back seat of peoples cars, but never actually use myself.

"It's okay... don't worry, you're okay... deep breath... you're okay....where do you need to go?"

She shows me on the map, and unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the place where I work. It's somewhere... in the hills.

I live on a hill... one of the 'west hills' and people are always telling me things like "Oh, you can get there a lot easier - take the back road over the hill" but then I ask them exactly which roads to take they can never tell me, they just say "It's easy - take the back way." which is endlessly annoying to me. I may give horrid directions, but I don't add insult to injury by saying "It's easy!" I can occasionally get to a little store in the hills... and once I even made it to the park (although I was told again that I took 'the long way' and that there was an 'easy' way). But on more than one occasion I've found myself driving around in circles only to pop out someplace completely unexpected... but mercifully near a road I was familiar with.

So back to the crying woman holding the map, pointing to the place where she wants to be. It took a good five mintues (and much flipping the book around and around) before I even figured out where we were on the map and got it oriented correctly. Eventually I figured out on the map how to get from where we were to where she wanted to go, and showed her on the map. Then did my afore mentioned pointing and waving in the general direction of where she wanted to be. Once we established that she knew where to go, I said a few more encouraging words (and resisted hugging her), sent her on her way, then turned down my street to go home.

I was a block away, and she was well out of site before I remembered.... I completely forgot to tell her about two very confusing intersections she was going to encounter as soon as she got to the top of the hill. D'oh!


IamSusie said...

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I routinely mix up my left and my right. Only their labels, though. I can always gesture in the correct direction.

Bezzie said...

Hee hee, yeah I've done that before. I always feel bad afterwards. My husband onthe other hand has freaking ESCORTED lost tourists in Manhattan to their destination via the subway (which can be quite confusing to a tourista).
I figure we're probably breaking even between the two of us.

Michael5000 said...

Eh, she probably needed the compassion more anyway.