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Published:November 8th, 2011 18:16 EST
Lost in a Detour Jungle

Lost in a Detour Jungle

By Donna Cavanagh

I went to run an errand to a mall that is about a half hour`s drive from my home.  To do this, I hopped onto one of the local highways planning to take the second exit which would lead me to my shopping destination.  However, whoever is the god in charge of road snafus had other ideas.  As I was entering the local highway via the ramp, I noticed a sea of taillights in front of me. I let out a mild expletive and tuned my radio to the local traffic station.  Apparently, there was a major accident on the opposite side of the highway and while one lane of traffic was getting through on the accident side, the police closed our side to facilitate the cleanup.

Damn! Damn! Damn!  They rerouted me off the highway at the first exit which left me with a quandary:  How would I get back to the road that would take me to the mall I needed to go to?  I decided to follow the cars in front of me. I didn`t know where they were going, but I hoped someone would be heading near my destination.  I realized that once I had been driving on that road for about a mile that I had been there before, so I was a bit more relaxed with finding my way. However, about three lights down, I saw another bright orange sign that read "DETOUR - Road Closed".   Now, I was going to be led off this road and onto another one because of construction.

I could feel myself starting to get upset, and my expletives were becoming not so mild. Anyone who knows me knows that I have no sense of direction. If I am in the car with my husband and he is at an intersection and asks me which way I think is the correct way to go and I say, " Left", he will go right, and this system, he swears, never fails.  If I am behind the wheel and take one turn out of my normal route, I am lost for hours.

I was losing confidence fast and I could feel my hands sweating on the wheel.  I was now on a street which was the detour for the detour, and ahead of me was another construction sign with the words " you guessed it - "Detour". I don`t understand how towns cannot coordinate their construction projects with each other. Is it too much to ask to not have every road in one`s state under construction at the same time?

About an hour into my trek, I didn`t recognize anything about my surroundings. I was cruising down private roads on the Main Line in the Philadelphia suburbs, and I knew if I continued to drive this slowly looking for anything familiar, someone would call the police and accuse me of casing their neighborhood and my day would end up with me in the slammer.

Finally, I got back to a main road and went into a Wawa (the really nice version of 7-11s which also have great coffee)   for directions.  Sure, I could have used my GPS system, but I think that only works if you have it with you. It doesn`t help you if you are on the road and your GPS  is sitting idle on your kitchen counter.

The kid in the Wawa gave me directions that required me to make about six turns. After he rattled off the turns, I thought I was going to cry. I think he sensed by frustration and asked, "Ma`am, do you want me to write them down?"

I said, "Yes, thank you!" At which point, the sweet kid said, "Hey, I know if my mom or grandmom was lost I would want someone to help them out."

Grandmom? Was he freaking kidding me?   How dare he throw me in with his GRANDMOTHER!  I was going to protest, but I knew my life was in his hands.  Did I get back home?  Yes, after 90 minutes, I found my way back to my starting point on the highway which was now cleared.  Did I go to the mall? NO, I was too depressed for not only did this day confirm that I was a direction idiot, but that I looked like someone`s grandmom.  Did I learn anything from my experience?  Sure, I need better wrinkle cream, and I am going back to online shopping because even with shipping fees, it`s still cheaper than the amount of gas needed to get from house to a mall.