I have never had a good sense of direction. I’ve been lost all my life. Is it because I was born breech? Or was I born breech because I didn’t know which way to go even then?
Whenever I have to make a decision as to which way to turn, I always seem to choose the wrong way. It seems right to me at the time. Then, as I continue, I get the feeling I’m not going in the right direction and turn around. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m not. But usually, I have no clue.
It’s not always a catastrophe, though. I worked for a machining company in 1966 through 1969, where my job was to deliver and pickup parts. The boss took me out the first few times to show me where the places I’d be stopping at were.
In 1972, I worked for a delivery service. The boss took me out to show me where all the stops were.
I worked for UPS in 1974 during the Christmas delivery season. Luckily, UPS sends a supervisor out with you for the first week to show you where your stops are, and it’s always the same route, so after a week I pretty much had it down. If I came across a detour, though, things could get hairy.
When I went to work at the University of Florida in 1981, I drove a little battery operated vehicle with a pickup truck like box on the back. My job was to empty all the trash can liners on Campus. There were over a hundred of them scattered over the route. The man who was retiring from that job took me out for the first couple of weeks till I learned where all the cans were. So I’m not completely hopeless. If I get a chance to “rehearse” for a week or so, I’m all right. It’s those first-time trips that trip me up.
Ah, yes, those “first-time” trips. Like a doctor’s office that I’ve never been to before. If I have the time, I need to go there once before the day of my appointment so I can “find” it first. Anything that’s on the roads I regularly travel, like the Waldo Road, 39th Avenue, 23rd Avenue, 16th Avenue, 8th Avenue or University Avenue (all directly off the Waldo Road), are pretty good for me. But try to find a doctor over by the Red Lobster, where they all seem to be now—and I need help.
Christmas Eve, 2007, I spent with my brother, Mac, who lives in the City of Alachua, about 30 miles from where I live. I’ve only been to his house about six or seven times. But I can never remember how to get there. I thought I was in Heaven when I finally got a cell phone and was able to call Mac to have him “guide me in,” like they do when the Pilot in the movie dies or is unconscious, and someone who’s never flown a plane before has to “bring the plane in.”
This year, I showed up at Mac’s house without having to be “guided in.” After dinner, we opened presents, then Mac took us all out to see some really great Christmas lights in Alachua. We had formed a line of four cars on our way to see the lights. My brother Mac’s, my brother Butch’s, Butch’s son, Beau’s, and mine. It was one of those displays where the lights flash in time to music that you listen to on your car radio. Very entertaining.
We got out of our cars and watched the lights for awhile, listening to the music and watching the lighted trees, candy canes, reindeer, bells, and other Christmas decorations blink on and off in time to the music. After the first of the seven songs started to play again we all started to head home.
Mac’s wife, Tracy, knowing how I am with directions, said, “Follow us. When we turn right, you go straight.”
I said, “Okay.”
So, when Mac and Tracy turned right, I continued on straight. I drove for a while in the darkness, waiting to see something familiar, like Highway 441. But I was seeing strange highway signs with numbers on them that I had never seen before. Hmmm, I wonder where I am, I thought. It’s pitch black out.
Help is on the way! Mrs. Bucket was lying on the floor in front of the passenger seat in my car. I picked her up, turned her on, and touched “HOME” on her screen. Because I have chosen a British-speaking lady for my GPS, I have named her Mrs. Bucket. Or Mrs. Bookay, as she prefers to be called. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the PBS television series in which Mrs. Bucket stars, she is a British-speaking lady who insists she be called Mrs. Bookay (“It’s French, you know”) rather than Mrs. Bucket.
Now all I do whenever I have to go somewhere I’ve never been before, or even if I’ve been there before, but it’s been longer than a month ago and I’ve totally forgotten where it is, is to tell Mrs. Bucket, and she gets me there every time. I love Mrs. Bucket. Not only can she direct me to where I want to go, but she can get me home from anywhere I might end up.
I was relieved to hear her confident, British voice say, “At the next opportunity, make a U-Turn.” I did, and before you knew it, Mrs. Bucket, had me headed down Highway 441 headed home. I love Mrs. Bucket!