I have a rare but confounding condition known as directional dyslexia. If I have a strong inclination to turn left, the correct direction is generally right.
For this reason, I was very proud of myself yesterday after helping a snowy-haired couple from Scotland. They stopped to ask me how to find the closest convenience store so they could buy milk, and I was able to point them in the right direction.
Or so I thought. When I got home, my husband informed me that they were probably looking for another store, which was even closer, and (you guessed it) in the opposite direction.
I felt terrible for steering them wrong. Especially when dark clouds began to gather ominously, signalling an impending storm*. At the rate the lost pair were walking they were bound to get caught in it. I contemplated heading out in the car to find them but figured, with my luck, I’d probably run them over.
Today, walking downtown, I thought I’d found a chance to redeem myself. A car stopped to ask directions to the Renaissance Hotel. I drew a complete blank but the driver seemed to know and was just looking for confirmation: “Straight ahead then left at the lights, right?” he said confidently.
He was so definite that all of a sudden I heard myself saying, “Yeah.” The car zoomed off and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t able to form the words “I don’t know” when it counted.
I’ve heard friends complain that the same thing happens to them in foreign lands. Their theory is that the local people don’t want to let you down so they just point anywhere.
I always thought that sounded crazy — and yet I just did it myself. To relieve my guilt, I bolted into the nearest sandwich shop and asked where the Renaissance Hotel was. I was relieved to hear that the driver had been correct all along — straight ahead and left at the lights.
Unfortunately, the sandwich man thought I needed to get to the hotel, so he started coming out from behind the counter to point it out for me from the sidewalk. I convinced him to stay put and thanked him again.
Then and there, I vowed to do visitors a favour next time they ask me for directions and pretend I’m new in town myself. Or, I could just carry a map … and a compass.
* To Thatboycansing, hope the storm passes you by.