August 23rd, 2010


xkcd: I Don't Want Directions
I can totally relate to today's xkcd! I don't have a GPS, but I do use Google Maps. I just want to plug the address in and let it show me the route. And even if someone I want to visit insists that the map is inadequate because they want to give me their preferred shortcut or whatever, I still need something visual to go by.

When I visited Toronto recently, Babs tried to give me directions to her apartment over the phone. Even though she insisted "It's perfectly simple", I wouldn't let her until I took out my map, unfolded it and looked at it. Because it is NOT "perfectly simple" until I can see what I'm dealing with. Otherwise, directions are a meaningless jumble of lefts and rights and names of streets I don't know. Turn left on Blabla, right on Blibbety, left on Flobadob... if I forget one of the blibs or blabs, I'm lost!

(Not to disparage Babs or anything; it's just how I operate. At least she didn't say at any point, "You can't miss it," because that's the other biggest lie told by people giving directions.) :}

One time I was in Minneapolis, and my uncle Dave wanted to give me directions to his daughter's deli so I could meet him there for lunch the next day. I took out my map, but he said, "No, no, put that away; I'll tell you how to get there." I refused and looked at the map anyway, and I'm glad I did. (Well, I would have been glad if I hadn't gotten lost *anyway* because of poor street signage. Still, he could have *warned* me about that...)

Also, looking at a map provides for error correction:
"Turn left onto Main. Then turn right onto Smithfield."
"I don't see a Smithfield... oh wait, there it is. But it's parallel with Main!"
"Oops, I meant Sherwood. I was thinking of the pizza place on Sherwood & Smithfield and got mixed up..."
If I'm not looking at a map, I end up looking in vain for Smithfield and getting lost!