I’d really love to help you, but I can’t. Even if I’m three blocks from my own house and I know the area like the back of my hand, I still can’t. I’ll try my best, but by the time I’m done, you’ll be so confused you’ll forget where you were trying to go in the first place. I have a pretty good sense of direction – so long as I’m not sitting behind the wheel of a car. I rarely if ever get lost in a city. But somehow the spatial part of my brain cannot communicate with the verbal part. Attempts to bridge the two invariably send my brain into a tailspin.
I want to apologize to the lady who asked me for directions yesterday. I almost sent you the wrong way down a one-way street. Hopefully you would have seen the glaring red DO NOT ENTER signs anyway. Then I told you to turn right on a street that existed only in my imagination. I hope that you noticed the hospital – your destination – on your left before you came to that non-existent right-turn. It didn’t seem like you were propelled to the hospital by an emergency, but in any case, I hope you got there in a timely manner.
I would also like to apologize to the unfortunate soul who asked me for directions to the co-op yesterday. I could walk to the co-op blindfolded in my sleep. It is the main place where I shop for groceries. And yet I could not give you any help except for feebly pointing in a vague direction over my shoulder. It was your bad luck that I was the only pedestrian available to ask.
Since biking and walking are my main modes of transportation, I’m too often the only resort for people who need directions. I used to tell people apologetically that I wasn’t from the area, which was fairly true when I was going to school. I’m not sure if I can get away with that excuse anymore. I look forward to the day when everyone has GPS and asking strangers for directions is obsolete. Until then, let us hope that I will not lead too many more people astray.