June 26, 2005

Friendly Face, No Map in Head

This post on the CTA Tattler reminds me of the unfortunate phenomenon that follows me everywhere I go, including here in Chicago. People ask me for directions all the time. I guess I seem approachable and friendly and competent or whatever, but the truth is, I can't find my ass on a map in the ground. You know what I mean.

Here, when I'm strolling with the baby in the park and a nice German couple asks me how to get to such-and-such landmark, I politely explain that I just moved here and don't even know street names, but even back home I was more likely to confuse people with attempts at geographical guidance than assist them.

The other day I was in a relatively unfamiliar grocery store, hunting some prized soy ice cream for an acquaintance, and phoned him for help. It was like his words were peas from a pea shooter, and I was wearing a tin hat, running and ducking for cover. He was saying things like "the middle of the end of the center part!" And I felt what dyslexics must feel when the words are unsteady on the page. If I'd had a map, I would have been fine. But assembling his words into a mental picture of my environment was just not happening.

I am spacially challenged, and I cannot help you. However, I at least know that the lake is thataway.

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