Thursday, September 2, 2010

For the Geographically Challenged

Dear Readers,

Today's story was supposed to be one of triumph.  Instead, I got yet another smackdown from my new home.

I've lived in the Boston area for five months now.  In that time I've learned that if I have to go anywhere new, I have to study the map for an insane amount of time, print out directions, and then pray I follow them correctly.  Plus, I have to budget a good 15 minutes for getting lost, which I manage to do pretty much every time I go to a new destination.  If Google Maps says it'll take 14 minutes, it'll really take me 45.  Traffic, construction, crappy winding roads, lack of road's a far cry from the grid of Chicago that I lived with for 15 years.  The grid is fabulous--streets are straight, they're labelled, and addresses are on coordinates, so you know pretty much where you have to go based on the address number.  I don't know if it's budget cuts or stupidity, but here in the Boston area, if you're on a street, it's often not marked--the cross streets are, but what you're driving on right now--the one you took the wrong turn down--isn't.  It's an absolute pain in the neck.  Now you're lost, and you don't know where you got lost.  Plus, #17 on one street isn't parallel to #17 on the next street--that is, if you can find two parallel streets to begin with.

I'm not bitter.

Anyway, yesterday I went to Cherry Bomb Bakery in Brighton to redeem a cupcake voucher.  Google Maps said the bakery was nine minutes from my house, and as I looked on the map, I realized it was on the same street (albeit a fair hike) as a Trader Joe's, where I also needed to go.  I decided to go to Trader Joe's first, then all I had to do was drive down Washington Street until I got to the bakery.  No map required!

That sounded fine and dandy until I got to the section where Washington was one-way going the opposite direction.  I didn't see this quickly enough and was forced onto the Mass Turnpike ($1.25 toll).  Go figure.  Where would I end up?

I got off the turnpike at the Brighton exit, and was spit out onto Cambridge Street, I believe.  Of course, it took many blocks to figure this out, since the street wasn't marked.  Thankfully traffic was also slow-going, since it was Moving Day, and I, like an idiot, decided to go into college campus territory where there were nothing but moving vans, loaded pick-up trucks, and other assorted vehicles-stuffed-with-furniture on the road.

I eventually drove into an area that I recognized, and from my extensive map study, I was soon able to find where I needed to go.  I was happy to have found the bakery, but it really would've been nice to not have to go way out of my way (and pay a toll) to get there.

Oh, I know what you're saying:  Jill, just get a GPS!  To which I say:  Struggling writer.  Many days I feel that a GPS would be nice to have, but honestly, the little money I do make is slotted for other purposes, and a GPS is far down on my wish list.  I love reading maps, and I enjoy navigating, and the GPS would take that job away from me.  Besides, a GPS isn't perfect either.  It's good, but it's not the end all be all.

Hopefully I'll learn the geography of this area soon.  It's probably time to take more drives, get lost, and figure out how to get home.  Any of you have helpful hints?

Your directionally-challenged pal,

1 comment:

  1. GPS is worthless. (As is Google maps, about half the time, but for some reason I still rely on it anyway.) It doesn't help you avoid construction any more than a regular paper or computer map would, and it doesn't REALLY know the best way to get there; it's basically looking up Google maps itself.

    OK, OK, I don't actually own a GPS. But I know people who do. My brother sells them. And all of those people admit it's nothing more than a funky gadget. It's not genius and it's not a lifesaver.