Monday, November 07, 2005

Follow the Yellow Brick Road . . .

Had Dorothy asked me for directions to the Emerald City, I'd have inadvertently pointed her toward the Munchkin-Land landfill.
I'm absolutely horrible at giving directions which has really suprised me. I have a great sense of direction. Even when walking up out of any subway station, I automatically know if I'm facing North, South, East or West. I know the routes and general timetables of the blue, green, orange, purple, red, brown lines and even the little yellow Skokie line. I'm truly an urban-gorilla when it comes to negotiating my way around Chicago's urban transit system.
But whenever anyone asks me for directions, I freeze up, go blank, and blurt out some obscure authoritative command, just wanting not to feel stupid. Then thirty seconds later I realize that some poor single mother wanting to get to a job interview downtown near Clark & Lake will probably end up in Des Moines because of me.

I'm especially bad during the tourist season. I live and work in downtown Chicago, so I'm constantly being asked where things are. Recently, as I was about to get groceries on State and Grand, a nice family asked me how to get to Navy Pier. I told them that the trolley-stop to Navy Pier is just two blocks South on State. As I was walking home on State, there was the trolley-stop just a half-block away. Dang! The nice family was probably on the 29 bus to 95th Street and on to Kankakee hoping to find the elusive Lake Michigan because of me. They've probably reached the Gulf of Mexico by now.

I've sent people wanting to get to the Sears Tower onto the Brown Line. "Get off at LaSalle, turn right and you'll run into the Sears Tower." Just as the brown train pulls away, I remember that it's Quincy that's near the Sears Tower. Crap! Did it again!. These folks probably got off at LaSalle, turned right, are are still probably trying to find a cab. Either that or they've obtained public housing by now.

Once I encountered a group of people dressed to the hilt on a snowy Winter night near Lake and LaSalle. They were headed to the opera and wanted to know if they were close or should they get a cab. "Oh, sure, it's just a block away on Wacker." (I pointed West). Oops. The Chicago Lyric Opera is three blocks South of that. I hope they turned South. And weren't wearing expensive heels.

So, I've learned to say, "I don't know." Even if I think I know, I'll probably serve society better by just saying, "I don't know."

Just yesterday, I was on the corner of Wabash and Wacker in the heart of Chicago one block from my apartment building. Two nice women wanted to know if I knew where Morton's Steakhouse was. I replied dryly, "I'm sorry, I don't know." Well, there it was, lit up in huge seven-story letters right above the Christian Science church where I've been going for the past four months. . .
. . . Too bad I didn't notice that until the next day . . . .


At 9:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dooder, you're not alone--I've stopped giving directions, as well--ever since I told those guys that the Sears tower was NORTH of Wacker drive! What the hell was I thinking????


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