This is a long one, so you might want to take a potty break and get a cup of coffee before you start. Hopefully, you’ll think it’s worth it!
Back in the early 80’s, Deb, Pam and I worked together and had become friends. So, when Deb had her first baby, of course, Pam and I were excited to see the baby and told Deb we would come up to her house in a rural area quite a ways north of the city after work. She did give us directions, but I don’t remember any scrap of paper that we were referring to, so we must not have written them down. (one paragraph in, and you can already tell the direction this storying is taking, can’t you?)
This was supposed to be a quick trip. Deb had told us it was less that a half hour to her house. We didn’t really make plans to eat BECAUSE it was going to be a quick trip. We could eat when we got home. So, we headed north right after work — excited — delaying dinner time — and with only a vague idea of where Deb lived!
We headed north on Hwy 221 confident that when we got to the first little town, we would find SR 52 running east out of it. When we got to the little town, we drove sloooowly through it multiple times looking for SR 52. Then, we drove slooowly through it more times looking for a road that might be SR 52 called by some other name while it was in town. Then we started driving out any road that DID run east, in hopes that when we got out in the country either that road would miraculously become SR 52 or we would cross SR 52.
One of the times we were wandering around out in farmland, we came to a quaint little filling station, and Pam went in to ask directions. She came back with some really convoluted instructions (at least they were to our directionally challenged minds), but we struck out again, with renewed hope of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
A little while later we came to another filling station — wait a minute — it was the same one! I pointed out the obvious — that we must be going in circles. Well, we probably should go in and ask for the instructions again. I looked at Pam, waiting for her to hop out of the car and go in and ask for the directions AGAIN — after all — I was doing the driving, so that made her the navigator, right? For the first time in a while, I really looked at Pam. She didn’t look her normal perky self. Was that a scowl on her face? I had never seen Pam scowl before! Or, maybe it was just hunger. She HAD mentioned that we should stop and get at least an ice cream cone the one time we had passed an ice cream shop — but I was sure Deb’s place must be just around the next corner so I talked her into waiting.
Anyway, here we were at the filling station again and obviously we hadn’t correctly followed the instructions we had previously received. Time to ask again, Pam. Then, formerly perky Pam spoke in a calm voice, “I asked for the instructions last time. I’m not going in and ask the same man for the same instructions AGAIN!” This is one of those blurry times. I don’t think either one of us went in to ask again. Partly, because I think we saw the man inside looking out the window at us like he recognized us from before, and neither one of us could work up the nerve to tell him that we needed the same instructions again. I can only assume that we then talked it over and decided we remembered what the instructions were and how we had erred — so we struck out again, with renewed resolve.
By this time, we had been looking for well over an hour, and Pam was getting really hungry! I was too, but I was busy driving and was totally focused on FINDING DEB! (That makes it sound like Deb was the one that was lost, doesn’t it? Good thing she wasn’t, and depending on us to “rescue” her — she’d have died of old age before we found her!)
Out of dumb luck rather than any plan, we did end up back in the little town and decided we would ask for instructions from someone in authority (those “authority” people always know where everything is, right?). There was the fire station! Perfect! And, we could see several guys standing out front talking. We’d ask them!
I can only assume that when we staggered out of the car, disheveled, probably near tears and babbling, these trained professionals could instantly recognize (maybe even smell!) people in distress! We told them our whole pathetic story about wandering around FOREVER looking for our friend Deb’s house, and then a miracle happened! They said they KNEW Deb and her husband and KNEW WHERE THEY LIVED! They explained to us that we were looking in the wrong direction — Deb’s house was WEST of town. We should just go to the car dealership they were pointing to down the street and turn on the street just past it, etc. Okay, we had pretty clear instructions now, so we took off — hopeful again.
And, in hunger and trauma-induced hysteria, DROVE RIGHT PAST the street the kind firemen had told us to turn on — and they were all standing in front of the station watching! Rats. So we turned around and started back to the street where they had told us to turn, but, HERE THEY CAME — ON A FIRE TRUCK! They met us at the missed turn and said we should follow them and they would SHOW us where Deb’s house was. How stupid did they think we were? Oh, wait a minute. They KNEW how “stupid” we were — we had just missed the first simple instruction they had given us. So, we fell in behind the fire truck. One of the guys even stood on the wide step at the back of the truck. Holding on with one hand and, this realllly shows how stupid/stressed they felt we were, at each intersection we came to, he would gesture us on, apparently afraid we would just lose sight of the fact we were supposed to follow them and wander off on our own again. Finally, they stopped the truck and gestured for us to pull up along-side. They then pointed down the road at a white house and said that was Deb’s house! We thanked them profusely and drove toward Deb’s (while in the rear vision mirror I could see them watching to make sure we got there! I’d LOVE to hear the story THEY must have told about this event.).
We drove into Deb’s drive, exhausted but relieved to finally be there. Of course, we had been on the road so long, that, by this time, we couldn’t stay very long! In fact, by this time, it would probably have suited us just fine if she would have just brought the baby out to the car for us to see, so that we didn’t even have to get out of the car, and could have started home immediately. Who knew how long it would now take us to get HOME!
But, of course, Deb didn’t know any of this. So she came out of the house smiling and totally oblivious to what we had just been through. We crawled out of the little tin can I was driving (a standard shift, plain jane Fiesta with cloth seats that we now felt like we were wearing like a cheap coat) to go into the house to see the baby. As we ohhhed and ahhhed over the baby, we told Deb some of the story, but we were really too exhausted to talk too much. I think we only stayed about 15 minutes, because we now had to find our way home!
This would be a great story if we had gotten lost on the way home too! But, it’ll just have to be a fairly good story, because we did manage to find our way home in a reasonable amount of time. Thus ends our “wandering in the wilderness” to find Deb.
I had lunch with Pam last week and we talked about the fact I’m writing a blog now, and she said, “You’re going to tell the story about our trip to Deb’s, aren’t you? It’s one of my favorites.” So, here it is, Pam.
Our son the Gunny says, “The worst experiences sometimes make the best stories later.” How true. How true.