Posts Tagged directions

Out of the loop

Hello, and happy Boxing Day 2016, everyone.  It’s been way, way too long but I’m kinda making a pre-New Year’s Resolution to write more.  I’ve been prioritizing steps on my Fitbit over the mental exercise of writing I suppose, and I’d like to find a better balance with that.  So here I go – could be the only post or the first in a new string of somewhat-regular ones.  Who knows?

Those who know me know that I have a horrible – absolutely abysmal – sense of direction.  I really don’t know how to get anywhere from anywhere.  My friend Greg once asked me a very good question about this: “You have such a good memory for other things; why can’t you remember directions?”  I have no idea why it’s any different, but I guess it is different in my head.

Either way, the invention of GPS has forever changed my life for the better.  Much, much better.  Gone are the times of writing down directions or even printing out step-by-step ones from Google Maps.  I’d get so stressed out trying to follow them, wondering how long 0.8 miles is supposed to take, not knowing if I missed something, etc.  Having live directions – first from a standalone Garmin (which I affectionately named HoBot 5000 for reasons I’ve since forgotten) and now on my phone – has given me a sense of comfort much greater than most people could imagine.

That said, it’s not perfect.  Many of us know the plight of having Google Maps or Waze tell us to turn left on a major street without a stoplight, for example.  But there’s one oddity that I haven’t heard other people talk about that amuses and confuses me.  (Amfuses me?)  I’ll be driving somewhere on the path the GPS gods chose for me, and it’ll show a couple of other options.  Most often it’s something telling me that heading toward the freeway would add 3 minutes to the drive or staying on a street instead of turning where the original plan said to will save 2 minutes.  But every once in a while, I see the amfusing thing: it basically says by way of highlighted route option, “If you turn on this random side street and go in a loop for no reason whatsoever, it’ll add 15 minutes to your drive.”  Have you seen this?  It’ll present some option that makes absolutely zero sense and then suggest that it’s a bad idea.  Of course it’s a bad idea!  It’s almost always a loop that would spit me back out in the same exact place, except just later and for no reason.  “If you make a u-turn and head to Magic Mountain, go on a few rides, grab some t-shirts for the kids, and stop at the restroom on the way back to the car, that would add 167 minutes to your drive.”

I’m sure it’ll stop doing that in future versions, but it always catches my eye and makes me wonder what causes it to offer that alternate route.  Is it particularly beautiful and I should slow down and enjoy a little nature on the way?  Does some enemy of Google live on that street and the machine is trying to annoy them by sending cars past the house?  I don’t know, but I’m just glad it presents it as an option and not the actual way to go.  If it were the latter, I’d absolutely trust it, follow the directions to a T, arrive at my destination later than expected, and promptly forget every turn that got me there.

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From point A…

“Excuse me,” I said to the casino worker, “How do I get to the Capital Grille from here?”  She’d clearly been asked that before because her reply sounded almost scripted: “Just follow this walkway all the way to the end, go through the doors on your right, then cross Las Vegas Boulevard and it’ll be right in front of you on the second floor of the mall.”  I thanked her and started down the path, thinking that even I could handle directions that only had three real steps.  I’m horrendous when it comes to these things, you see, and even worse when it’s a place like a casino that wants it to be confusing.  I felt confident about this short trip though.

When I got to the end of the walkway, there were indeed doors to my right.  “So far so good,” I thought.  I exited, hoping to see The Strip right in front of me, but instead saw a huge semi-circle driveway filled with cabs and limos.  I took the sidewalk around the giant drop-off area and got to the street.  In a small sea of people, I crossed the street confidently and saw a building in front of me that looked like it had some shops in it.  “Aha, said mall,” I thought.  Once again, there was a huge and crowded driveway between me and my destination, so I took a long arc of a sidewalk around it until I got to some entrance doors.  I stepped in and stopped with what must have been an awesomely confused look on my face.  “The ceiling looks the same as the place I just came from,” my inner voice said.  My confusion got a break when someone called my name.  I looked up and saw a man with whom I’d soon be dining.  “You gonna head over?” he asked.  “I was…just trying to,” I said, “But I think I ended where I started.”  “What?”  More talking to myself than him, I said, “But I crossed a street!  How am I back here?  It was a real street too, with a flashing red hand and everything.”  He laughed and said, “Well I’m gonna walk over there now if you want to come with me.  It’s just across the street.”  I said that would probably be best.  About three minutes later, we were there.  “Wow, that was a lot easier blindly following someone,” I said.  

I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but it’s safe to say that I don’t exaggerate how incredibly shitty I am at getting from one place to another.  And seeing as how my lack of direction didn’t stay in Vegas, I’m sure this won’t be the last time something like this occurs.   I can’t wait.

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