Friday, January 18, 2008

Indiana or bust!

In a few moments we load ourselves into the car and begin the drive through the snow to reach the site of Linley's cheer competition in Indianapolis, about 8 hours from here. Jill plans to navigate. With no time to write today, I resubmit to you a short story about my beautiful navigator:

My wife has a flaw everyone knows about but to which she cannot admit. She cannot navigate her way out of a cardboard box. This flaw came as a surprise to me when I first discovered it. We were headed out on our first road trip, a long journey to the mountains of West Virginia and then onward to Cleveland. It was a trip neither of us had taken before, so we needed directions.

Jill is an organized woman. She keeps files in her car trunk of lesson plans and worksheets for her students. She keeps files on her desk filled with receipts, itineraries, and bills to pay, and a calendar on the wall that she updates every afternoon as the kids reveal to us their last minute plans. When she announced she was going to serve as navigator on this trip, I was certain my organized wife would find the most expedient route.

When she came onto the porch and showed me her folder marked “Directions,” I was impressed. I shouldn’t have been. Little did I know what challenges awaited me.

The morning of our departure arrived. We rose early, loaded the vehicle and pulled away from the house. Jill sipped coffee, confidently clutching her folder. Approaching the exit of our neighborhood, I asked my navigator what to do. She smiled broadly, sat up straight, opened the folder, and then to my horror, read every step of the directions. I don’t mean a few turns in Atlanta, I mean all the way to Cleveland. When she finished, she put the folder away, reclined her car seat, and fell asleep.

When she finally woke up, the first words out of her mouth were, “Where are we?” A navigator, indeed.

This scene has been repeated over and over again. Before each road trip Jill announces she is going to navigate. Before each road trip, I find some alone time to study a map, write down directions, and hide them for the time that is certain to come, when she has fallen asleep soon after the seat warmer has done its job. Before we leave home, I serve her decaf coffee to make sure she falls into slumber more quickly, before we get lost.

Even the girls have picked up on our navigator’s shortcoming. While on summer vacation we were walking to a cafe Jill had chosen for lunch. With a map in hand she had obtained from the hotel, she reassured us “it is just around the corner.” After a half-hour the girls started to complain. Jill kept waving the map, saying “it’s just right ahead,” and held up her fingers separated about an inch to show us how much further on the map.

After another fifteen minutes I insisted to see the map. It turns out a quarter-inch equals half a mile. The girls and I promptly hailed a taxi.

Once I took the family for a weekend getaway to a place where we have been before. Jill tried to convince us her sense of direction improves when she is going to a familiar destination. As she scolded us for teasing her and insisted I not make a turn unless she told me to, we drove right past our destination.

They say the first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. I don’t think my navigator is to that point yet, so in the meantime I’ll say: “Just go to sleep, honey, and I’ll wake you when we get there.”

1 comment:

Tink said...

Ha ha!! That's pretty funny and sound EXACTLY like me! I like to call myself the Queen of U-Turns. :-)