Harold is directionally challenged. He chalks it up to all the southern cities he lived in as a child. His father’s job moved the family about every two years. For years after we married I was still learning about another city where he had lived–Knoxville, Jacksonville (FL), Richmond, Charlottesville, Gainesville (FL), Augusta, Greenville (MS), Opelika, Ft. Lauderdale, Scranton (SC)…
He can get lost very easily but unlike many men, he is quick to stop at a minute market to ask directions. Of course, you know as well as I do, that usually the person behind the counter at the minute market just moved to town last week and knows nothing about their surroundings.
Harold thinks I’m a rock star when it comes to “finding my way”. He says that I have a sixth sense about direction. I believe my gift comes from summer after summer of traveling by car all over the US with my parents, but Harold thinks it is due to having lived in the same area all my life.
There are times, though, when my sixth sense of direction fails us. Usually, it is in a big city somewhere at night.
Before GPS, Harold would drive and I would navigate using a map. When Harold drives, his mind is all over the place. He spaces out, as engineers so often do. I may have said “turn left at the next intersection”, but we will pass it right by if I don’t repeat it again and then sometimes yell it. To which Harold replies, “you don’t have to yell”. Yes I do. I really, really do.
One night in Atlanta we were visiting one of his old fraternity brothers. We had been weaving through street after darkened suburb street for almost an hour. The map was unclear about a coming turn, as it had been unclear many times before. I mentioned it again to an exasperated and tired Harold; and he snapped back, “well, it is right there, Ann; just look at the map and figure it out.”
Well, I was tired and hungry, too, which is a combination that usually pushes me over the edge. On the day we married my mom warned Harold, “Sometimes Ann gets hungry and tired.” At the time Harold thought she had slipped a little into “la la” land with all the wedding day dramas, but he very quickly came to understand.
It probably came several days later when I moved my furniture into his home, and he tried to explain that there wasn’t enough room for all my grandma’s heirlooms. Harold already had furniture of his own there.
Today, we still live in the same house; and Harold tells folks that as far as he knows there is not one stick of his furniture left. If he’s talking about those macrame yard chairs that used to sit in his living room, well he’s right. They were about the only furniture worth keeping, but they went outside where they should have been all along. They finally rotted so we threw them out. But I digress as I so often do.
So I snapped, shoved the map over between him and the steering wheel, and said, “I’m done. You figure it out!” He was furious, and so was I. We finally stopped arguing, while he belly ached and tried to figure out the map.
Enter our first GPS system a few years later, and the other day while traveling in Colorado Harold and I realized that it had been a long, long time since we had fought over directions. In fact we’re wondering if there will be a time soon when people will not know how to read a map.
So how can a GPS save your marriage? Buy one and see. We had several smaller Garmin, but the latest one came factory installed in my car. We picked out this Toyota RAV4, because its GPS screen is large enough that even I can see it, even with my 3.00 readers.