Guide for Giving Directions

I’ve lived on MacArthur Blvd. a few months now. I’ve lived in other parts of the city before and I’ve lived in other cities but I have never lived any place where cars will so often pull over and ask for directions. Two or three times a week I’ll be walking my dog and someone will ask me how to get to Virginia or Sibley Hospital or Georgetown U, etc.

I enjoy helping out so I always cheerfully give directions, whether I know how to get to their destination or not. When I don’t know I wing it best I can. The trick for doing this is the delivery — if you’re giving directions that could be totally off, you have to do it with extreme confidence. That way when the driver gets even more lost they’ll just blame themselves, thinking they must’ve remembered wrong since surely Mr. Confidence couldn’t have screwed up.

But for the most part I know my way around and I send people the right way. A biology major told me that, among mice and humans alike, males and females remember their way around differently. Males tend to rely more heavily on street names and spatial thinking whereas females are more likely to find their way around using landmarks. If that’s true then I give very male-oriented directions since I mostly use street names and distance estimations. I’ve been trying to add landmarks to my directions-repertoire so I can mix it up for the ladies.

When I’ve done my job and the car drives off the first thing I think is that maybe┬áthose people were terrorists and I just helped them get to their target. Then I remind myself that I watch too many movies.

1 Comment so far

  1. Maia (unregistered) on October 16th, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    I grew up in Woodley Park close to the Zoo, but my family moved here from OH in the early 1970’s.

    As a 6 or 7 year old, I was playing outside (yes we did that then) when a station wagon with in retrospect was a tourist family, pulled up and asked how to get to Cleveland.

    I cheerfully gave them direction out Wisconsin Ave to 270, 70 and the PA turnpike.

    Only a couple of years ago, did I realize they were probably looking for Cleveland Avenue.

    Oh well, I hope they enjoyed Lake Erie.

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