Friday, February 23, 2007

Now Face East

If I'm giving you directions to the mall in my town, I'll tell you to travel on Forest Drive, make a right on Chinquapin, a left on West, and a right on Jennifer Road.

If my husband is giving you directions to the mall in my town, he'll tell you to travel on Forest Drive, make a right at the Amoco station, then drive until the storage place is in front of you and make a left. Turn right after going under an underpass.

Why is this?

In a small town like Annapolis, it's acceptable to direct via landmark. Only the greenest newcomers won't know what you're talking about if you point them to the corner Johnson's Lumber Company used to be on. There hasn't been a lumber company there for a few years, but stick around long enough and you'll know all about it.

In a city like Washington, however... I humbly submit that landmark directions to do not work. There are two reasons.

1. Washington is fond of putting buildings, parades, roadblocks and other obstacles in the middle of streets. I can think of at least three buildings that occupy space that used to be part of the street which now careens off to the side, or simply stops and forces you to choose a right or left hand turn. Mapquest, in particular, seems stumped by this, as it has on more than one occassion suggested that I motor through the cement barricades which blocked off the White House for five years. DC changes too often.

2. Retailers suffer in Washington. It isn't wise to rely on the Amoco station as your beacon of light. It will either merge with another gas company and change names, or go out of business altogether. And since I've seen buildings go from being fish fry restaurants to churches to one price clothing shops, I don't trust that the old Hecht Company Building (now a what... industrial waste depository?) is going to successfully do the job.

Nevertheless, I can't get my husband to acknowledge street signs. He is a master map reader, yet still gives directions according to the positions of overpasses, railroad tracks, the sun, and the mood. And, as he is married to a woman who can't find her way out of her shoes on most days, this results in me being lost, and often.

I'm not sure which side of the fence you're on: but I implore you... know the name of the street that comes with it. It'll help me a lot.

1 comment:

Dilly said...

When I lived in Annapolis I often had to use very very similar instructions (lived in the apartments on Spa Road RIGHT NEXT TO THE WAWA!); my sister and I would say "make a left on Chinapaquanwanwan Road..." and fall into a fit of giggles. No wonder so many friends would say "never mind, I'll use Mapquest..."