The world is your oyster!: Directional Incompetence        

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My name is Heather.

I am 22 years old.

I am an East Coast girl
who also loves Utah.

I love my life. How could I not?

The world is my oyster :)
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Directional Incompetence

I have never been particularly good at directions. I think I could count on one hand the number of times people have called me to ask for directions, and no one calls back a second time. I am just really bad at knowing where to go. When I was home and driving, I knew how to get to Caitlin's house, the mall (where I worked, thank you, not because I was a shopaholic), my school, Rita's Italian Ice, and the church (on a good day). Now that I am in Utah, and not driving, I literally do not know how to get anywhere.

If you think I'm kidding, maybe this will give a better sense of my ineptitude.

Towards the end of my first semester at BYU, I had gotten pretty good at taking the bus. One day while waiting at the Wilk for the 832 bus to arrive and take me back to Wyview, I was talking on the phone to my dad. I saw a bus approaching. It was the 831. I thought to myself, "I shouldn't get on this bus." Then I got in line, flashed my bus pass, and sat down. I didn't realize my mistake until about ten minutes later, when I had ended my phone call with my dad. As the bus hurtled through unfamiliar roads, I mused to myself, "Hmmm. I don't remember this street. I should really learn to be more observant." Suddenly, my whole stomach tightened as I remembered that this was the 831 bus, and not the 832. Furthermore, I had no idea where I was. My mind was reeling. Should I get off at the soonest stop and try to walk back to the Wilk? Should I talk to the bus driver? Should I just wait until we made a full circle? I felt panicky as I frantically texted everyone who might be helpful. Gathering my thoughts a little bit, I decided I just had to muster up my courage and turn around and ask whoever was sitting behind me for help. They were probably nice, right? They would totally help. I forced myself to smile and turned around to meet my savior. My smile froze on my face when I looked into the bloodshot eyes of the stringy-haired stranger sitting behind me. Piercings dotted his whole face, which was sagging with a vacant expression. His eyes briefly locked on mine; I reiterated my smile and turned back around. "GET ME OFF OF THIS BUS!!!" was all I could think. Eventually I made my way to the front and explained my dilemma to the busdriver. She dropped me off at a stop that 833 shared with 832 and told me that the 832 would be there in about five minutes. Thankfully, the 832 arrived right on schedule, and I was home within the half-hour.

On a trip to New York City over the summer, I got horribly lost. I ended up in some ghetto area of New Hampshire, where people wouldn't stop knocking on my car window to see if I needed directions. I don't know how they knew, but I was too scared to say yes. I said no and kept driving. I called my mom and received a call about ten minutes later from my friend Alyssa's dad. Having grown up in New York, he knew the area well, and stayed on the phone with me for a solid hour while I navigated my way back to the freeway.

It is my second year here at BYU and I still ask people where certain buildings are, especially at the beginning of a new semester. Last year it was even more of a problem; even when I knew where I was going, people would stop me randomly to ask if I needed help in finding my way. I just found out how to get to the Creamery on 9th about a month ago. I can get from Raintree to Wyview and that's about it. If I miss the bus, I have no choice but to wait for the next bus, because I literally do not even know how to walk to campus from Raintree. A good sense of direction is just not something I was blessed with.

A few weeks ago, I signed up to be a mentor for Provo Youth Mentoring. I was involved in this program as a freshman, when I needed service hours, but last semester I just didn't have time. This semester my classes start pretty late in the day, so I figured I could fit in some service. I was assigned a student at Rock Canyon Elementary School and instructed to spend an hour every Wednesday morning from 10:30-11:30 mentoring Channer.

The night before my first day, I spent two hours poring over GoogleMaps, mapquest, and the UTA bus schedule. (The first half hour was spent figuring out if Rock Canyon Elementary (RCES) was north or south of campus, and north or south of Raintree.) I figured out that I could take the 833 bus from the Wilk at 9:50, get off at a stop closer to the elementary school, and walk the rest of the way.

After all this planning, I missed the bus and decided just to take the bus back to Raintree and walk the rest of the way. Luckily, my roommate Crystal happened to be home and offered to drive me. Once at the school, I discovered that Channer had moved in December. Instead of mentoring him, I just volunteered in kindergarten. It was a wonderful day and I was excited to go back the next week.

The next week, and the week after that, I found excuses not to go again. I was just too stressed, too tired, too late. Sorry, kindergartners....I really liked you!

This week, I was determined to go. I woke up at 7, finished my homework, printed off walking directions, and, at 10:15, started towards the school. I was sure it wouldn't be hard. After all, I had already been there once, when Crystal drove me. It was a nice morning and I was feeling confident as I walked briskly up the hill. I even felt confident enough to multi-task and called my dad to chat. He was in a meeting, so I called my mom. She was about to go shopping with some other ladies in Young Women's, so I quickly told her what I was doing. She said, "Oh, how good of you. You can totally find it. You have a good sense of direction."

This sadly misplaced confidence in my innate abilities became glaringly obvious twenty minutes later when I still hadn't found the elementary school. I had, however, found a lovely middle school, after backtracking twice. Thoroughly discouraged, I took another left turn and found myself back at Raintree, just in time for the 11:42 bus to campus.

I guess the poor kindergartners will just have to wait another week.

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