Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Directional Dialogue

In The Good Life state of Nebraska, I seem to be directionally deprived. I can take the winding, hilly, swampy, wooded roads of Wisconsin that make absolutely no sense (what's the difference between County Rd. S and County Rd. SS?) but when it comes to the square mile grid road system of Nebraska, I need a GPS and a compass and a cell phone.

Today was no different.

Toby asked me if I wanted to go out for supper tonight with him. That was not even a question in my book. But since he seemed to be waiting for an answer, I said yes. He said I'd have to pick him up from work. And since I'd be skipping the entire hassle of making supper just to pick my husband up from work, no big deal, right?


There are two things Toby and I do not agree on or see eye to eye on.

Number 1: (we have the next 60 years to figure out what this one is.)

Number 2: Directions.

We just don't agree on directions. When he gives me driving directions, they make no sense. When I tell him that he is not making sense, he doesn't agree with me.

I asked him for the directions to his work site today. Suddenly, peeling potatoes and making fresh french bread and stuffing a chicken seemed so much easier than they normally do.

He told me he was working in Bennett. And, thanks to, I know where Bennett is. Our backyard fire pit comes from Bennett, NE.

So, if he is working in Bennett, this should be easy, right? Wrong.

"The road that goes through Bennett, take that straight south out of town," he said.

Okay, that was a mistake right there. We have no compass in our van. I do not know which direction south-out-of-Bennett is.

"Would that be hwy 2?" I asked him, trying to verify the correct road.

"No," he said. "Here's what you do..." he began his directions. "Take Hwy 77 to Roka Road which it actually has an exit off the highway. Take that road until it "t's" -- it should be just a short way down. Turn right and then turn left on that road and go six or seven miles. Then there's a high way -- we're not sure if it's 43 or 143 but it's a paved road and you turn east there. Your goal is to keep going east. There's a road... uh... 148th street and the highway is a mile past there. Just stay on the paved road. Watch for the Douglas sign which will tell you to turn left but turn right towards Stagecoach. The house number is xxxxx -- which actually honey, if you look up Google maps, you can see a picture of the guy's house."

"Um, yeah.... uh, okay, uh, well...ummmm..." I said, trying to decipher the ink I had just transcribed from the telephone onto a piece of paper.

"That's it. That's how you get here," he told me, as if that clarified everything on my scribbled piece of paper.

"Okay, so when I turn off hwy 77," I began the direction re-run, "Which way do I turn?"

"The road "t's" a short way down and you turn right there," he replied, completely not answering my question.

I tried again, "Yeah, but off of Hwy 77, which way do I t...."

He cut me off and answered, "Oh, you go east there -- you want to keep going east."

"Yeah, but east is which direction?" I needed clarification.

"Uh, that would be left, honey," he answered, in a tone that said I should know that already.

"Okay so then after I turn on Roka road and I go left, the road t's and I turn right, which road am I turning on when I turn left again and how far down is that?" I asked, trying to make as much understandable sense as I could.

"Well, you just stay on Roka road and follow that," was his answer.

"So that road I turn left on shortly after the Roka road "t's" is actually Roka road again?" I clarified.

"Yeah, I think so. Something like that. It's like a quarter-of-a-mile or a half-a-mile down that road before you turn left," he answered.

(Meanwhile I'm creating a mental image in my head trying to get a aerial view of the road system at this intersection.)

"Okay, gotcha," I responded.

"Now this highway," I began into another chapter of this complicated directional dialogue, "is it highway 43 or highway 143 or highway 148?"

"I. Don't. Know. Honey," he answered, enunciating every word.

"Okay so then where does this 148 number come in?" I asked, wondering if this was another one of his land marks.

"The Unknown Highway is a mile past 148th street," he explained. "Just stay on the paved roads," he repeated again.

And then I remembered that when Toby gives directions, he uses more land marks than street intersections. He uses land marks found 2 miles down the road behind a paint peeling barn sitting on a rusty tractor. He uses houses 3 blocks over to give you a reference point to the house he is working on that day. He uses everything as landmarks. And he always says north, south east and west instead of left or right..."That tractor west of the barn is facing south of where the house on the east side of the street sits."

I looked again at my directions, trying to make sense of them.

"You know honey," Toby began, "If you would just write it down as I tell you, then you'd have the directions." (as if I hadn't thought of that already...)

I almost choked. "Uh, honey? I write them down completely as you tell me but that doesn't help at all... believe me."

As I hung up, I was trying to figure out what Bennett Nebraska had to do with this job site since it was never mentioned in the directions and how much driving time should be allowed to get to this place and how would I know if I was on the right road that he had no name for but I was supposed to drive it for 6-7 miles. I noticed the screen on my phone and saw that it took him 10 minutes to tell me how to get to this place and I still had no clue how to get there.

And then I decided that since we agree on pretty much everything besides directions, I would do my part and eliminate that one thing. Of course I can't technically agree with him on this because if I don't understand how to get to a place he is directing me to, no amount of agreeableness will get me to his job site, unfortunately.

I'll eliminate the problem altogether, I decided. I came up with two solutions:

Number 1: Never go to the job site

Number 2: Get a GPS

Number 1 is really not an option. I mean, I am a loving wife, he is a loving husband. We like to see each other and spend time together like loving couples do. Especially if it involves eating supper out.

Now, if I get the GPS, I will not tell him I have it because I want him to still give me directions. I'll write them down, say, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Okay perfect. Those directions are great. We should have no problem getting there. You are so smart honey" the whole way through his complicated directional dialogue.

So, yeah. This GPS will be an investment in our marriage. A tool to keep communication open. A program to unify our direction conversations. A practical system to keep us on the same road (pun). A time saving technique because he won't have to spend 10 minutes telling me how to get to a job site that will take probably only 20 minutes to drive. A way to help us understand each other better.

And we will never have to disagree again because there won't be anything to argue about since the GPS will be responsible for me getting lost. Not my charming, loving, smart husband who I trust with all my heart and who was so kind to take me on a date... if I can find him sitting on a roof out in the middle of a cornfield somewhere in Nebraska.


pat ve said...

That is a very funny story. Did you get there and did you get the meal? I am techno-challenged. I would have to have Sarah's help to get the GSP figured out. You are directionally-challenged. I would pull out a map which was once free at a SERVICE STATION, but now costs $4.99.

Tania said...

I am just like you. Cannot for the life of me have a natural knack with north, south, east and west. It has to be right or left with me.

You are so funny, I love how you wrote this post. (-:

Bonnie said...

Wow I can see why you got so confused, being a directionally challenged person myself. My dad has tried to teach me how do understand going north or southeast, but it never seems to work. Honestly I do better when told to go left or right.

Jean said...

Like Pat, I wonder if you made it?

The problem with GPS is that you have to be able to identify the location of your destination. Too bad your vehicle doesn't have a compass in it - they are very handy.

We figured that we could get around in Germany without a GPS so H. refused to get one in the rental car. We really wished afterwards that we had one because even with a good map we had lots of trouble there. Grid roads do not exist over there - everything goes up or down under or around and even the signs are only partly helpful to the guy who knows the language and since the navigator couldn't even read the language we had to make numerous stops and turn arounds.

Jessi said...

I enjoyed your blog, I had to laugh it sounded to much like my husband and I glad to hear we are not the only ones that disagree on directions.=)Milford is my home town and very close to my heart My Parents own Milford A/C and appliance.So it is fun to read your blog and know where you live. Nice to meet you.