Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Navigationally Challenged

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; strengths to help you get through life and weaknesses to keep you humble. One of my weaknesses is the fact that I am navigationally challenged. Once I have been a place enough times I am pretty good at getting around but until I am used to it I can get turned around and lost quite easily. I was discussing this with WeaselMomma on one of her recent posts, I was telling her that if I ever went to Philly (her home town) that I would probably end up calling her hopelessly lost and she'd have to figure out where I was and get me unlost, or that I would have to kidnap her and use her as a prophylactic but in this case as a guide so I didn't get lost and not in terms of antibiotics* nor birth control.** I then revealed to her that I was navigationally challenged to the point of getting lost in my hometown and she said she wanted to hear this one so I am indulging her and the rest of you with one of my slightly less finer moments, enjoy.

It was the fall of 2001, I had graduated high school, gotten my driver's license, became a deli clerk, and got my first car, a 1988 Mercury Topaz that was my grandma's but she had stopped driving and it was just sitting in her driveway collecting wasp nests, a fact that scared the shit out of my mother (Hi Mom, I saw you save my blog address so you don't have to hide if you are reading this, I was getting ready to link you anyway). I started college that August at Benedictine University, a small private university in Lisle, IL. It was an interesting transition for me, not only was I new to the whole college thing but I had my K-12 in public school (a good system) and it doesn't take much guesswork to figure out that Benedictine is a catholic school given the being named after a saint thing.

At Benedictine Christian values are something they strive to instill in their students no matter what religion they are, this was rather apparent in their humanities classes, especially the first one that all students are required to take. In that course I was given an assignment, I was to do 10 hours of community service and write a report about the experience. This assignment proved very difficult for me, not only did I now have a full time course load but I was also a deli clerk and up until that summer I had been in a coed youth program through the Boy Scouts of America called Venturing Crew. My crew dissolved before I started college. While in crew I did many hours of community service, without crew I had no outlet and had to find my own place to volunteer, and most I thought of and contacted didn't have anything or I needed to have background checks or other nonsense that prevented me from doing it. Finally I found a nursing home that was happy to have some free labor, and it happen to be in my hometown, score!

A little bit about my hometown. It is a rather small suburb of Chicago. According to the sign last time I saw it there are 24,600 people in my town, obviously this is a somewhat rough estimate but close enough. Almost no one has heard of this little town, it isn't uncommon for people from neighboring burbs to have not heard of it. I was about a year and a half old when my family moved to this town and lived there until I finished my undergraduate work and moved here for grad school. So one would assume that I know this town quite well right? Well you assumers are wrong, I know parts of this town very well, the nursing home in question was NOT in my area, which was still very small since I had only recently started driving. My mom told me she knows where this place is, it is past 63rd street she tells me. And so confident in my abilities I got in my trusty Mercury and hit the road.

I get on the street the place is on and am driving along and get to 63rd street and start looking for a nursing home, I didn't see one. I kept going a ways until I decided I must have missed it and so turn off the main road onto a side street so I can turn around legally (too much traffic to do one of the U-turn using all 4 lanes my daddy taught me and I have made my own). Unfortunately for me this stupid side street had some odd twists (I was going around the block instead of finding a driveway to use figuring it would be easier, hah!) and instead of ending back on the main road I was on I got on another road that I thought was the main road but wasn't. At this time I had this really bad instinct to keep driving, I used to always do that when lost, just keep driving in hopes I would eventually get somewhere I recognized. In my defense I had not diagnosed myself as navigationally challenged yet and used to be dumb enough to think this method might work.

I drove until the road I was on either ended or forked and kept going and going. Eventually I saw a Jewel, which is a grocery store chain, and decided enough was enough and stopped to find out where the heck I was and call for help. I walk into the Jewel and find an associate and asked them what town I was in, the answer was Countryside, which is several towns over and around 6 miles from my hometown, though I took the insanely "scenic" route. I found out the street names and got on my cell phone (which only had 75min/month so I never used it) and called Grandpa and told him where I was and asked how to get home. He gave me specific enough instructions and so I went on my merry way.

The funny/ironic part was as I got back on the street I was on and drove further I drove into LaGrange, the town I was born in, where my clinic/hospital was and oh yeah, where I went to church for quite a few years. I was not far along at all when I started recognizing the landmarks, the road I was on was the road we took to get to church, except we turned before Countryside since it was in LaGrange, once I was in LaGrange I knew exactly where I was and how to get back. So my strategy funnily enough would have worked had I stuck with it about a block or two more, which is probably why I later used it when trying to navigate elsewhere with generally bad results. Instead of going home I decided that since I had been driving for like an hour or so I should at least try to make it to the nursing home, which Grandpa told me was BEFORE 63rd street. I found it and worked for a few hours, the next day I went back for a few more and then was too busy to get the full 10 so wrote it up as was and turned it in for a not so good grade.

And that dear readers is how I got lost in my hometown. Since then I have actually improved in my abilities to turn around and am a little better at navigating. It helps that I generally refuse to go anywhere without mapquest directions. Oh and my getting a little mixed up on my way to the Weasel's house was totally the weather's fault. I went during a bit of a snow storm that consisted of somewhat sticky blowing snow that coated the street signs and reduced visibility. That said if I ever do go to Philly I will likely get myself GPS chipped and steal WeaselMomma along the way!

~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*Use of antibiotics in a patient without a bacterial infection that has a risk of contracting one is the application of the word prophylactic that I encounter and use the most.
**Referring to various birth control methods as prophylactics was the application I actually forgot about when commenting on WeaselMomma's blog, proving once again that I am a nerd and my blog title is quite appropriate in more than just the figurative sense.


Weaselmomma said...

You are such a dork! And I mean that in a good way. Now I want the story as to why you don't want a backround check! This could be funny.

nonna said...

it's ok. i got lost in my home town once too. a meter maid lady eventually helped me out and got me where i was supposed to be. then i got in trouble for talking to the meter maid. of course, i was in FOURTH grade, but hey, we all have our weaknesses. hehe

The Microblogologist said...

WeaselMomma: I already admitted to the being a dork in the tags, plus you've met me so more than most you should know this ;). I didn't want a background check because they take time and I did not have it. Between my other classes, work, and procrastination the project was due long before a background check would have shown I was too busy to get in trouble. Plus I was (and still am) a goodie-two shoes for the most part.

Nonna: I think 4th grade Karen's boundaries were small enough to prevent anything like that from happening. Pretty sure I would not have gotten in trouble for talking to a meter maid, did she have one of those pimped out golf cart things?

nonna said...

nah, just a regular pick up. i guess i named her wrong, cuz you're thinkin bout the chicks who give you parking tickets. i meant a meter reader (ya know for utility companies) haha. my bad.

yeah, i normally wouldn't have been walking around town by myself at that age, but for some reason i was having to take a different bus and go to my mom's friend's house after school. it turned into a very scary trip for me, but since i was/am a nerd too, my mom thought i could handle it. she was wrong lol

The Microblogologist said...

Yeah, I'd just get in trouble for wandering off at that age, finding someone who wasn't a serial killer to bring me home would probably have not caused much fuss. I walked to school and back by myself starting I think in 2nd grade and was allowed to go to several local parks at some point probably around then too, we had quite a few really close to our house. Other than that I generally did not roam on my own.

I think people know better than to let me go off on my own without mapquest directions and possibly some landmarks written into the margins and such (like WeaselMomma provided before I made the journey to her place. Of course the snow and such messed me up and I did get a little turned around on the way, but it wasn't too bad and I made it there with Niecey and I both intact =).