Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not a Mensa Candidate, Part 2

In what I fear will become part of an ongoing series, I bring you the full and accurate report of another one of those "duh" moments in my life. Hey, I bet it will make you feel better about yourself and I am happy to provide such a public service at personal expense.

I had to run out to the chemist today to get plasters for my disfigured thumb. After a minor camogie incident about a month ago, my thumbnail is black, dead, and now only attached at one corner. It has to stay on though because the new nail isn't ready yet. One of the women at work told me that Boots has the best selection of plasters, so I ventured out to Baggot Street.

Now, I've been living here for over year. I can find my way around the places I need to go, but my mental map is still a bit blurry and incomplete. Plus, there's some places I only know how to walk to because that's all I ever do and the traffic patterns in town are a bit mad. (When I rented a car last year, I ended up circling Stephen's Green 3 times because I couldn't figure out how to escape it.) Even so, I am more than capable of finding Boots, especially since I've been there before.

For some reason, I didn't go the way I meant to go and I ended up on a street I'd never been on before, without a great idea of which way I was headed. I didn't panic though, I just kept walking and then when I came to the next street, I made a guess about where to go. I was right and I ended up on Baggot Street, about 2 minutes from where I wanted to be. I realised it was actually a short-cut as compared to my regular route and I congratulated myself on being so clever.

I made my purchases and then set out back for work. It was just coming up on 1.30 and I had a meeting at 2.00, so I figured it would take me about 10 minutes to walk back to work. I turned off Baggot Street and walked along, sure that this new short-cut would give me time to have a quick lunch before my meeting. I walked. And I walked. And I walked. And then I started to think that perhaps something was not quite right.

It's one of those judgement calls - fish or cut bait. Have I gone too far to turn back or should I cut my losses and get back to a road I know? I had an idea that I was going to end up in Donnybrook, which would be a short jaunt through Herbert Park back to work. So I decided to press on toward the light at the end of the tunnel (or, in this case, the traffic at the end of the T-junction).

Only, when I got to the T-junction, I wasn't quite in Donnybrook. I knew enough to know that I was a good bit north of Donnybrook. So, another judgement call - walk into Donnybrook and then through the park to work (a known-quantity), retrace my steps (a fairly-known quantity, at least when I got back to Baggot Street), or try to find a road that looked like it was going to go in the direction I wanted to go (a completely unknown quantity and a bit risky given that there are only about 3 perfectly straight roads in the whole city).

But what's life without a little risk? I took the next left I could find and at each subsequent intersection, took the path that would keep me as close as possible on my chosen course. I was afraid though - roads can angle without your ever knowing it. I am used to the nice parrallel grid of Chicago - a place where you could never really get lost and you didn't even really need to know street names as long as you had grid co-ordinates. In Dublin, without a map (mental or otherwise) and the full name of the street (Pearse Lane is different than Pearse Avenue which is different again from Pearse Terrace), you could quite easily end up hopelessly lost.

Plus, I was working against the clock. So I picked up my pace and continued my adventure through the leafy Embassy belt of Ballsbridge. You have to admit, as places to get lost, Ballsbridge is a pretty good one. I chose wisely or perhaps luck was with me because I ended up getting back to exactly where I needed to be, a full 5 minutes before my meeting started.

I know exactly where I went wrong on my walk back - I turned right off of Baggot Street way too soon. But I hadn't been paying attention really, either when I was walking to Boots or when I was leaving. But hey, I now know where the Egyptian and the Turkish embassies are, so it's not like the experience was a total waste of time. I bet I might even be able to give directions.


At 21 June 2006 at 09:34, Blogger Fence said...

I've done exactly the same thing. Got out of a workshoppy thing a little early one day so figured I'd walk over to the Post Office to collect a package. But the workshop wasn't in my usual building, so I was two or three streets off. Ever so wisely I thought, ah, sure if I go in this general direction then I'm sure I'll end up somewhere that I recognise and won't it save me going in the wrong direction for three minutes.

I have no idea where I ended up, but it wasn't the greatest part of Dublin. So I gave up and looked for a bus stop.
I try to look at maps before I head out into the great unknown these days :)

At 22 June 2006 at 20:58, Blogger -Ann said...

I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one. Even so, I've been having a bit of a dunce-y week, having managed to get lost on my lunch break and then put my provisional license through the wash on the very same day. Seems like I need to start paying attention.

At 23 June 2006 at 16:48, Blogger Lyss said...

That often happens to me in Boston. I never realy drove here until I moved to the city in December.

You may have gotten lost, but at least you now know a new route to someplace. (Happened to me and a friend last Friday night actually- I know know an alternate way to kind the Boston University dorms, which were not my intended destination).

At 25 June 2006 at 02:48, Blogger Career Guy said...

I wouldn't venture out into Dublin without a map, that's for sure. I may look like a goober, but at least I wouldn't be lost goober.

At 26 June 2006 at 11:02, Blogger The Swearing Lady said...

Give directions? No. Don't.

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