TBT: Directions

Head east on Mainstreet
Take a left on Leftist Way
Take a right on Righmost Circle
Green house with the red truck

Do you remember writing directions?

On little scraps of notepaper, napkins, on the backs of business cards that you had in your wallet but can't remember why?

How about maps?

Howe Ave is located on E7, and you would fold out the whole thing til it was the width of the entire car, zeroing in on a little piece of the grid until you found the street you were looking for and then working backwards until you traced a line with your finger.

Go half a generation back and there was a time when maps were free at any gas station brochure rack.

That was back when the person who called "Shot-Gun!" had real responsibilities. Navigation and Stereo DJ.

I was thinking about this cause I had to give my mother directions to my son's school so she could pick him up this week. I could have just given her the address. I mean, she's an adult with access to an iPad, an iPhone, and she knows how to operate a vehicle.

Hell, I probably didn't need to give her an address, I could have just told her the name of the school.

And she wouldn't have even needed to look at a map.

She could have just gotten in her car, held down a single button on her phone and said something like "Siri . . . Directions to [School Name]" and she'd be off. Siri could handle both her playlist and turn by turn directions.

Siri is a better shotgun than my children are.

But here's the thing: There are many ways in and out of my child's school, yet, the most obvious, the most direct, the one Siri would have navigated, also happens to be the most frustratingly ridiculous mess I have ever seen on a daily basis. 

You can only get to it and out of it from a single direction. The roads are narrow, which doesn't stop anyone from parking in the red zones anyway. You've got a lot of big cars being driven by people who don't know how to drive big cars and about 500 children rushing out in a mass exodus.

It's chaos.

And that's before you even get out, which requires an unprotected left hand turn directly into a stop light that refuses to let more than 2.5 pass without going red.

However, if you were to say, go one street further down, you would find ample parking in a cheery shaded neighborhood that is less than a sixty second walk to the front of the school. Upon exiting, you get to skip the unprotected left hand turn entirely and into a right hand turn lane that lets you merge right onto the main road. No stoplight, pass go, collect $200.

Why isn't my way more popular?


People are kinda stupid.

Not all people. But lots.

And some people don't like to get out of their cars if they don't absolutely have to.

Guys don't like to get out of their cars because there's a ball game on. Doesn't matter who what when or where, there's a ball game going on at all times.

Girls don't like getting out of their cars because they don't look their best. Hair and make-up is an important part of their identity even when they are happily married and going to the one place where they're least likley to be considered sex objects.

Actually . . . who am I kidding . . . there is no such place.

But setting that aside for another blog and contiuing with the original stream of conscience, when it comes to picking up my son from his school, there is a better way.

And that way requires directions.

Not complicated directions.

But not the kind of directions that any GPS is capable of determining.

We're talking directions from an experienced human.

And I was thinking about this for today's Throw Back Thursday, because giving directions and following directions is eventually going to become a lost art. My sons will probably never have to stop and think about the best way of getting from one place to the next because their minds will already be made for them.

They also won't find themselves at 2am at a gas station in a shady part of Oakland, trying to figure out where the hell they are and waking up a homeless guy and trading a couple of cigarettes for directions on how to get back on the highway.

Not that I want them in dangerous situations, but I do want them to grow old with at least a few good stories.

I remember taking my big guy to visit Stanford and on the way home I exited the campus on a different side than which I came in and had no idea how to get back to the highway. He was sitting in the back I put him in charge of reading the map on my phone and giving me directions. He kept telling me that i needed to get to a certain street, and I kept asking him how to get to that street and he simply didn't know what I meant.

He did not get accepted into Stanford.

Go figure.

My point is back when we had to give and take directions, we had a clear understanding of our starting point and what steps to take to get to our destination. Sure we made a few wrong turns along the way, we got into the wrong lane, or we had to pull off the highway cause Jenny had to pee again, but we learned how to handle being lost.

Our children may never be lost, but they have no idea of where they are or where they are going.

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