The other day I got lost driving to Walmart. We live in a super small town and Walmart is one of the few landmark destinations. Most people down here, when giving directions, start with “Go past the Walmart aways…” or “Make the first right after Walmart…” Finding Walmart is critical. Finding Target would be even more critical for me, but the closest Target is in another state.
My first mistake on this trek was thinking I could manage without the GPS. We’ve lived here over a month, I’ve been to the store multiple times and I was pretty sure I’d memorized the turns, so I turned the friendly GPS off.
My next mistake was following a school bus. Somehow I thought there was a school in that direction. Not even close. I drove for twenty minutes, ended up stuck behind multiple school busses and school pickup traffic, and finally found myself in the historic district of town where the speed limit is a whopping 15mph. This is a great place to be if you want antiques, a cup of coffee, and a bookstore. If you are looking for an extra long shower curtain liner, a welcome mat and a couple of potted plants, you are pretty much out of luck.
Finally, I got out from behind the school bus, found a place to stop, and turned the GPS on. I plugged in Walmart, and it happily calculated a route for me. The whole way there I forced myself to notice every landmark, every fast food joint, and even a few street names. I told myself that next time I would know how to get there without a robot “recalculating” my every move.
Problem is, I’m a chicken. Getting lost drives me bonkers, especially when we are in a relatively new place. I know it took me three months to feel comfortable driving around without my GPS the last place we lived. The move before that, it rebelled by consistently telling me every location was on the opposite side of the street from where it really was. Maddening, yes, but after a while I began to appreciate its quirks and just assume the opposite.
It drives me crazy at times, but it is definitely my security blanket. Never know when you’ll need to find the closest gas station, a Chick-Fil-A, or a tourist trap. I might get “recalculated” every five minutes and my destination might actually be on the wrong side of the street, but at least I’ll find Walmart.
What do you rely on when you move to a new town? Your GPS, Yelp, your Iphone? How long does it take for you to feel like you know your way around?