Confessions of the directionally challenged

December 11, 2010

I went to the mall today, and found myself surprised by the crowds.  There were people directing traffic, there were police surveillance vans, and there were very long lines at the store registers.  I don’t know why I was surprised at this – I mean, it’s just two short weeks from Christmas.  Of course the mall is going to be a zoo.

Well, actually, I do know why I was so surprised.  It’s because sometimes I am phenomenally unobservant of the world around me.  I find myself constantly surprised about very predictable events:  holiday shoppers and rush hour traffic and the gas tank getting close to empty.  (It’s not on purpose but for whatever reason, every time the husband goes to get in the car after I’ve been driving it, he gets about two minutes from the house before the gas light comes on.  This is not very fun for him.)

Let’s face it, things like “foresight” and “advanced planning” are just not my forte.  Unless, of course, it has to do with work.  This is something that confuses the husband to no end. 

“I don’t understand,” he’ll say, “how at the office, you’re the girl who always remembers everything.  You can quote entire paragraphs out of reports, you can state the exact date three years ago that a certain event occurred, and you’ve made a reputation for yourself that you are always two steps ahead in thinking of the client’s needs.  And yet, at home, I’m lucky if you remember what time I asked you set the alarm.”

I always shrug because, really, I have no good answer for why this is.

I do try to explain to him that it’s not personal.  That sometimes there are things I don’t pay attention to or plan out that really would be to my benefit if I had.  Take, for instance, my chronic habit of looking up directions at the last minute.

Actually, and this is kind of a secret thing about myself but I guess not anymore since I’m posting it here, but I have a really bad habit of leaving for a new destination and getting about halfway there before I realize that I don’t actually know where I’m going.  As in, I don’t even have a frickin address to this place.  Like, I just get in my car and start driving in the general direction, because I haven’t thought ahead further than the first ten minutes of the journey.

This is how, one time about ten years ago when I was headed to my cousin’s bachelorette party I ended up driving around for three hours before I had to turn back home because I was operating on the mistaken assumption that where I was going was due east of my home, instead of north-east.  By the time I realized how far off course I had driven, my destination was so far away that the party would’ve been over by the time I arrived.

Yes, that’s right, I left the house with nothing more than a general sense of the direction in which I needed to travel.  Which, as it turns out, wasn’t even correct.

I think that is probably the most dramatic of the incidents, but it is certainly not the only one.  Although, with the advent of GPS-enabled smartphones, directions and a map are no more than a click away.  (And with my particular bad habit, this is a definite lifesaver.  We won’t go into how many times I’ve had to pull off to the side of the road and use this particular phone feature.)

Speaking of which, however, I’ve got a company Christmas party to get ready for.  And since I’ve never been to this place before, so I should probably look up the address and directions.  Before we leave the house.  Yeah, that would be a good idea.