Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here

Whenever I am going to travel to a place that I haven’t been to before, I get very anxious. As much as I try not to fall into the typical stereotypes of women, when it comes to lacking a sense of direction, I could be the poster child. I have no problem asking for directions, however, when the person giving them to me starts with something like “You’re going to go south on Route 117…” their words quickly transform into that of Charlie Brown’s teacher “Wah, wah, wah…” I would find it difficult to tell you which way is south even if I had a compass in my hand. Whenever someone asks me for directions (which I don’t recommend to anyone) I tend to point while trying to act as if I have any idea which direction I plan to send them. I say things like “Hmm, I’m trying to think of the quickest way to get you there” in order to buy myself some additional time to think of what the hell I’m going to tell them. It’s especially embarrassing when my husband is around. He tends to cough to get my attention, and when I look at him he is pointing in the complete opposite direction from which I am pointing with a smug little smirk on his face. Oh, whatever, you tell them then…

I would guess that a GPS unit would be a great solution for me, however being out of work at the moment I can’t justify making that purchase. Plus, given the fact that all I read about in the paper is that these devices are constantly being stolen out of cars, it would be just my luck that this would happen as soon as I bought it. So, my major source for directions has been MapQuest. I’m grateful that these directions are pretty straight forward as far as take a left here, or a right there, but telling me to travel .4 miles really tends to throw me for a loop. I end up traveling at a top speed of 5 mph while trying to read every street sign that I pass and occasionally glancing up at my rear view mirror to chuckle at the person flipping out behind me. In addition, I tend to need to double the “estimated arrival time” to account for the number of times I will drive past the street I need and have to back track.

What I lack in sense of direction, I make up for in ideas for products that I do not have the mental capacity to create. The solution I have come up with here is something I would like to call “Landmark Directions”. This application would have the ability to give directionally challenged people, like myself, directions that contain landmark clues embedded in them. Examples would be… “take a left on Main Street (there will be a blue house on the corner with white shutters)” or “take a right on River Street (it is two streets after the Plaza that has Stop and Shop in it)” Whenever I receive these types of clues in the directions (usually from another woman) I have the greatest success rate of arriving at my destination. It may also be helpful for this application to contain clues for when you have passed the street you need. It could be called the "you've gone too far" function as in “If you come to an intersection with a light, you’ve gone too far”. This would stop me from traveling 6 miles down the road after my street (.4 miles/6 miles- it’s all the same to me).

I bet if the above is possible, than you could also create “Landmark Directions” based exclusively on using Dunkin Donuts as your landmark. “You will pass 2 Dunkin Donuts… take a left 4 streets after the second one…if you come to a third Dunkin Donuts you have gone too far…”


Anonymous said...

your so funny...but that is so true I need those kind of directions to I'm really clueless when people give me directions using highway numbers. It's just tell me when to take a left or right lol

Anonymous said...


And, of course, there's always that "take a left, where 'such-and-such-a-place' USED TO BE" as a direction. I guess that's a RI thing. LOL


Paula said...

stacy, i have to admit that i am great with directions and giving them, what i cant
understand is when someone says... the store is 50 yards down the road....or the building is 200 feet high...my brain just cant picture that in my head how far away that is....the boat was 100 feet long.. the basket is 20 feet high...lol lol