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Here’s the way it works whenever someone is driving my mother anywhere.
Say we are cruising along, looking for 10th Avenue, Mother in the passenger seat, giving instructions to Dad.
Just after we whiz past 10th Avenue without seeing it, Mother yells, “Turn there!”
“Wait, was that the street?” my Father says, looking at the road dwindling in the rearview mirror.
“Yes, I told you it was the road–why didn’t you turn?” Mother frets.
“Because you didn’t tell us to turn till we passed it,” all us passenger kids exclaim in unison.
Mother doesn’t get it. Why can’t the car obey orders and just materialize on 10th Avenue? After all, it’s just an instrument piloted by a human.
My father, ever stoic and patient, ignores all this and looks for a convenient u-turn opportunity. We kids groan, because we know our mother’s habits oh so well.
For one thing, mother has never driven a car, so she has no feel for how to navigate. It just never makes sense to her that the car can’t read her mind, perhaps like the family mule did when she was a kid in the 19-teens of the 20th Century. The mule knew the way, but our father does not.
Another complicating factor in this scenario is the fact that mother always has trouble with the concept of Right and Left. If you tell her to look to her right, she has to stop and ponder–do you mean to her left facing you, or to her left from your point of view? You know how that works. If somebody has a particle of food on the right cheek, you get their attention and point knowingly to your right cheek. But, since the person is facing you, it is not clear whether you are acting as a mirror image–in which case it is apparent that you mean the left cheek–or whether you mean the right cheek, in which case a temporary dyslexia kicks in and the food-particle partner is momentarily confused, thus quickly moves to wipe both cheeks.
So, once Dad u-turns and heads back to 10th Avenue, he asks mother, “Which way do we turn?” Instead of saying right or left, mother points to the left from her lap–only thing is, Dad can’t see this, since he’s trying to stay on the road and avoid death. Mother doesn’t understand why he can’t look over at her and search for her hand motion.
Frustrated, Dad says, “Do we turn right or left?” Mother is confused and this time just points dramatically so that she can be seen.
We eventually get where we’re going, but Mom pouts because she has the vague feeling we’re all teasing her.
The sad ending to this story is that some of us kids inherit her inability to give or take travel instructions. Four of us kids to this day can’t find our way out of a dark and stormy night, and one kid–Ronny–beats the odds and learns how to find his way without having to depend upon us bumper-car meanderers.
After decades of trying to learn directions, I come to accept my limitations and turn them into field trips. Now I don’t mind not knowing how to get there, I just drive around till something looks familiar, enjoying the surprises along the way and in the process having experiences both scary and funny.
Want to go for a ride?
As the suit guy used to say, it will be an adventure, I guarantee