I have recently confirmed what I have suspected for years. My family is directionaly impaired. There is now, no doubt. Not one of them knows east from west.
“How do I get to the H & M clearance store?”, my wife asks, as I really don’t want to have to waste a day shopping for a new coat.
“Take the Yonge Subway to Queen St. Take the Queen streetcar going west. Get off at Spadina. Walk north about 2 or 3 blocks, and its on the east side of the street.”, I tell her.
‘S0, when I get out of the subway, which way do I go on the streetcar?”. she continues.
“West.”, I repeat. “You go west.”
“Which way is west? Is it my right or left”, she inquires, near panic.
“It depends which way you are facing.”, I answer.
“I don’t understand.”, she moans.
“Okay.”, I explain, I’ll take you.”
We have been dancing to this tune for many, many years, and I am still being asked the same questions.
“The lake is south.”, I tell them all. “If you know where the lake is, the rest is easy. If you’re looking at the lake, your left hand is east, your right hand is west, and behind you is north. The zoo is east, and Kensington Market is west.” Simple? Right. Not to my family.
“Which way is the lake?”, they ask.
My eldest daughter found her way to The Confernece Centre, at Queen and Bay, a mere 30 minute walk from our house, to attend a symposium on Mental Health. Sometime late evening, she called me to tell me that she was lost. She was at Queen & Ossington. “How did you get way over there?”, I asked.
“When I left the building”, she said, “I turned left, and kept going until I realized that nothing looked familiar.”
“You were supposed to go east, not west.”, I told her. “You were supposed to turn right.” I got dressed and drove over to pick her up. I have asked them about this inability to find where they are going, and the consensus is that they all use landmarks to identify which way they should go. The trouble is, they have no idea which way to go to locate the landmarks!
I have purchased compasses, but this proved unhelpful as well. I have provided each of them with maps I have drawn indicating the route there in green, and the route back in red. They still get confused, and call me to ask for directions. I have suggested using the GPS on their phones, but my frugal wife will not spend the money for the service. It is obvious that my kids inherit this directional impairment from their mother, who I am certain received it from her mother. It is astounding to me that no one can seem to find their way to where they have to go and then get back home again. I have recommended a trail of bread crumbs. They are concerned that the birds will eat them, and they will not be able to follow them back.
“What is the easiest way to get to the clinic?”, my wife asks.
“Take a cab.”, I tell her.
“There’s no way I’m spending that kind of money on a cab.”, she says. “I’ll go by transit.”
“Okay.”, I say. “Go down to Queen, and take the 501 streetcar westbound.”
“Westbound?”, she asks.
“Westbound.”, I repeat. “It will be the one that stops on the north side of Queen. The front of the car should read Neville Park or Roncesvalles. Get on it. Get off at Landsdowne. Its right there.”
“Landsdowne?”, she asks.
“Are you okay with that?”, I inquire.
“Well, it seems complicated.”, she answers. “I don’t know any of those places.”
“Never mind.”, I tell her. “I will drive you.”
“Really?”, she exclaims.
“Ya. It will probably take less time than to have to go out on a search and rescue mission after you don’t come back.”
And I often do lay awake at night wondering if they will all make it back. My family goes out into the great unknown like a rolling stone.And while I am certain that they will gather no moss, I have reservations about their ability to find their way home.It’s enough to drive a directionaly competent person south. On the upside of all of this, I am pretty certain that I could leave, give them directions to where I’ll be, and they would never be able to find me.I am seriously contemplating using this technique as I plan my next vacation.