Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dodgy Directions

Love Chunks will be the first to tell you that a drunken earth worm on a windscreen wiper has a a greater sense of direction than me.

Our car is ancient enough that it has a tape player, no air bags to speak of and we still use The Club on the steering wheel as a laughably retro security measure.
As such, there's no Sat Nav or Tom Tom malarkey but a dog-eared copy of the Melways shoved up against the edge of the passenger seat and the divider thingy that used to hold cassettes but now stores some yellowing, dried out 'wet ones' and more take-away straws and Maccas serviettes than we should probably admit to.

So, when we're out the door at 7.45am on Saturday morning trying to find the opposition's tennis courts in a suburb we've never heard of, Love Chunks knows that he needs to work out the route in his head and maybe - just maybe - rely on me to guide us safely through the last couple of streets.

That's a big maybe because I have to hold the map in the exact direction we're going and even then can stuff up left or right turns. "Oh, sorry, it was right back there, not the left we've just taken." His initial anger and shock that was evident many years ago is now a tired resignation. He's married to a moron and has decided that it's his cross (or illegal U-turn) to bear.

Despite this affliction, I've led a reasonably productive life, mostly unassisted. In fact I possess enough perception to appreciate the supreme irony of being the person that most strangers will approach for directions.
This isn't an exaggeration.

At least three times a week I have a car pull up whilst litter ninjaing; a person tap me on the shoulder; a mouthed 'Can you help me' from the opposite tram seat or a yelled 'HEY! Is this Carlton?'
Sapphire has been with me enough times to see the living proof.

Jill in Adelaide was power walking with me when a befuddled Pom pulled up alongside me to ask, "Hey luv, where's Seaford?" He had a drunken, dishevelled young male in the passenger seat still holding a bundy can but without shoes or wallet. I was relieved that I could at least say, "Um, you're about twenty five kilometres in the wrong direction. Head down that really big hill and drive that way for about half an hour."

That's the weird thing - I can always give them the right answer.

Irish backpackers: Yeah the 57 stops off at Errol Street.

A tall, black American dude: Oh the tram you want to catch is on the other side of the road. Think 'left' here and you'll be fine.

An elderly German couple in a campervan: You've gone about three sets of traffic lights too far. Head up to that corner where the servo - sorry, petrol station is, turn around and drive back up Flemington Road.

Hot chick: No, you need to walk over to Flinders street and get the number eighty. DFO isn't on Spencer Street anymore. Good luck with your Just Jeans job interview!

Get off at my stop and I'll show you what street to walk up to get to the State Hockey Centre. No Love Chunks, I was not drooling all over that hunky Canadian guy!

I like to think that I have an air of calmness and tranquility about me; that I clearly know where I'm going and am familiar with my surroundings.

Love Chunks reckons I look daft enough to be harmless. Sapphire says, "You don't look like you'd swear at anybody or try to rob them."

They're probably both right.


franzy said...

Oh, if only I had your clear lack of directional sense!

My sense of direction is magnetic perfect ... as long as I'm in my own neighbourhood.

Every single time I've travelled outside of that zone I still feel as though I know where I'm going, I look and talk as though I do and other people (travelling companions, loved ones, etc) assume that, becaues of my radiating confidence, I know exactly where everything is.

I haven't got a clue. The biggest fights I've ever had with anyone have been over my unfailing sense of direction trying to take everyone in the wrong direction.
"But it's THIS WAY" I would scream. "It's RIGHT THERE!"
This would always end in bruised egos, feelings, relationships, the lot. I'm like a drug addict who doesn't think he has a problem.

At least you can see where you're not going ....

The Elephant's Child said...

Directional sense is another of those deal breakers (like morning/night person) which should be but aren't covered in compatability quizzes.

Elisabeth said...

This post about your navigational retardation- which I share by the way - perfectly matches your picture at the start of this post, those two closely connected sides of the one head, your head. Every time I look at it, and I've seen it a few times now, it makes me dizzy.

Thanks Kath.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

Mrs PM has the worst sense of direction in the world. I usually make her drive so that we can guarantee getting somewhere. The problem is that she doesn't believe it and insists that I drive.

I call her Tonto because of this.

Thankfully my new phone has a crude SatNav thingy so I can bypass the Tonto effect. ALso, when I replace my clapped out old banger of a car in the next month or two, I might invest in an anti-Tonto Tom Tom.




Kath Lockett said...

Ah Franzy .... I'd be one of those ignorant folk who would utterly believe and trust in your innate knowledge and sense of direction.

And then, even when the doubts started to creep in I'd still keep quiet because no-one - NO-ONE - is as clueless as me. Surely...?

Elephant's Child, if Directional Sense was a prerequisite for a long-term relationship then the sales of Tim Tams, cat toys and taxi fares would sky-rocket.

That photo is courtesy of Sapphire's 'magic', Elisabeth. She set it up as my Facebook profile picture but I got that many comments of protest I had to take it down!

PlasMan the thing is that I hate driving as well! However your approach worked for my parents too. Mum won a cross-country car rally back in the 1970s with Dad as the navigator.

Marie said...

This post could have been written about us, except with my husband in your role. I know I'm somewhat anal retentive (I freely admit that) and have an obsessive need to know the exact directions before we leave, but he just blithely takes off with no clear idea of where we might be going and a firm belief that it will all work out somehow. And even when he's looked at the map, he still goes the wrong way (or "the scenic route" as he prefers to call it). I might as well get the dog to navigate.

As for being asked directions, snap on that one. Our town has freebie maps you can pick up at various spots around town, so I keep a couple in my coat pocket and give them out to people seeking directions. Mostly that's easier than trying to explain as they are startled by my Australian-accented Swedish and wonder if perhaps I'm a bit loopy (being foreign and all that). I think people ask me because I look safe (old bat with her shopping basket hobbling along with her little fluffy lap dog) and because the dog lulls them into the idea that I must be a local. Or maybe it's just because I'm the only one in this country that is willing to make eye contact with people :-)

(And I believe this is the first comment I've made here, even though I've been reading for years. Better late than never, eh?)

River said...

I rarely get lost, but I'm hopeless at giving directions. I usually point in the general direction they need to go and say about 10 minutes walk that way.

Lidian said...

I am so tired (and thus my sense of everything including direction is that much worse) that I thought all those people you gave directions to, were giving YOU different directions to get to the tennis courts. i have no idea why I got that except that - yes, I need more coffee. Am going upstairs to barge through some teenagers and get some.

My sense of direction at best is not bad, better than when I was younger. When I was younger I used to map read with the map semi-upside-down.

Captcha is BATIA:

I BATIA I can figure out where we're going, as soon as I turn this map around!

Hannah said...

Oh, I am completely hopeless at directions too! I have write myself detailed lists when I'm driving anywhere new (i.e. "left at third roundabout, right at second set of lights"). I'm incredibly stressed about making my way to a building in Fairfield in Sydney on Friday, when I don't know Sydney or its transport system at all. *shudder*

I'll simply have to be on the lookout for someone like you :)

Ann O'Dyne said...

we all need directions, most of the time.

Pandora Behr said...

As somebody with a well known, near flawless GPS I don't get directional retardation at all - though most of my friends have it and it drives me barmy - however I do get what it's like to have every person on the tram ask you for directions. I think Sapphire is right, we just look like locals who won't bash the crap out of you for breathing. Great post, as always.

Luke said...

At least you can give drunk, shoeless, robbed Englishman the right directions! That's always useful! ;)

Baino said...

Yeh they're both right Although I guess if you're litter picking, maybe they think you work for the council and know everything about the area. I'm dreading driving in Melbourne! At least I have a map reader with me.

Deep Kick Girl said...

Me too. No sense of direction whatsoever! It's like a missing gene or something.

Thank goodness for Google Maps on my iPhone because now I can find my way even when I'm walking around.

There is help out there for us directionally-challenged folk.

Kath Lockett said...

G'day Marie (waves from cyberspace!) - nice to meet a lurker! I agree that having a dog makes you look 'local' but I also get it in the city, on the tram, in *other* cities on holiday....

River I thought I'd be hopeless at giving directions too but it's always a weird coincidence that the place they're asking about is one I can actually find (what are those odds?).

Lidian - 'barge through some teenagers' - I love that turn of phrase!

Hannah I use the same style of instructions too - often my Melways has post-it notes on it so that I don't get frazzled - 'turn left at the fourth street after the lights'

Ann, that's true. It just seems as though a goodly deal of the population chooses me to seek help from (which I rather like, in case it wasn't clear!) :)

Thanks Pandora. I guess it's a compliment to look like a 'local who won't bash the crap out of you for breathing.' Maybe that's something to put on our CVs?

Luke, perhaps 'being useful to drunk, shoeless Poms' is another 'hobby' to put on my CV?

Baino it's nicer to get asked for directions when litter ninjaing that being called a 'Loser' from a passing P-plated car or having a beer can thrown at me.....

Deep Kick Girl - I suspect that my next phone will have some kind of GPS thingy on it. Either that or a chip that's surgically inserted into my earlobe.

Anji said...

The map has to be the rightway round for me too - but sometimes I forget to wriggle it round.

At least we know how to read a map

Helens said...

Jesus, Kath, that photo was a bit much suddenly coming up on the browser.

Helen Balcony said...

Sorry, that was me again, forgot to use proper nym for here as usual.

Kath Lockett said...

Anji *you* might know how to read a map; it still escapes me!

Sorry Helen - I really like the picture but Facebook friends loathed it and insisted I take it down :(