The time has come for me to begin at the beginning of the “Department of Temporal Adjustment” and read it all the way through, making changes as I go.
I guess some people take a shortcut and call it ‘revising’.
I will paste this morning’s work below. If you want to compare, here is the link to the previous version.
“Left!” I yelled, unable to keep my voice low. “There’s the sign! This is it, turn right here!”
My husband quickly moved into the lane to turn right, and I realized that he must not have heard my directions clearly. I frantically tried to correct his mistake before we had to waste more time turning around yet again.
“No, no, no! I said left, turn right here!”
“That’s what I’m doing,” Tony said through gritted teeth with what appeared to be ultimate patience, “we are turning right.”
“You’re not listening,” I said in the calmest voice I could manage. “I said to turn left right here.”
“I don’t think you are listening, since that doesn’t make the least bit of sense,” Tony responded in a voice tinged with frustration. “We can’t turn left and right at the same time. Do we need to turn left, or right?” He seemed to be a bit distressed, but I couldn’t figure out what he was getting so upset about. All he had to do was drive the car and follow my directions—nothing complicated about it!
“Left, at this next road coming up…right here!”
I pointed to the left, and Tony swerved into the left hand lane to make the requested turn.
Finally, we were heading in the right direction. I turned to smile at my husband and realized that in my excitement to get where we needed to go, I had probably handled the whole exchange the wrong way. My poor Tony was the perfect picture of the harassed husband, with his clinched jaw, tense shoulders, and that death grip on the steering wheel.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell,” I admitted sheepishly. He glanced in my direction and I cringed at the expression on his face. He was not a happy camper.
I glanced toward the back of the car to see if my loudness had upset the children who were being suspiciously quiet, and was relieved to find they had all fallen asleep.
“I am just so frustrated,” I continued quietly. “Do you realize we have been driving over half an hour, and we still cannot find that stupid road?”
“We’ll find it, don’t worry,” Tony consoled. “How are we doing on time?”
“We still have another half hour before her appointment,” I admitted, “but that doesn’t take into account that we are supposed to be there 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. So in reality we really only have 15 minutes to find this place.”
I turned again to look at the sleeping children in the backseat. This wild goose chase of a drive had come about because my oldest daughter, Becca, struggled with chronic asthma. When I had heard that a neighbor’s child had been all but cured by one of the local doctors, I had immediately called to make an appointment for my child.
The receptionist had firmly but calmly informed me that the doctor was no longer taking new patients, and that there was a long list of people who were waiting for an opening. Pride had flown out the window as I had begged and pleaded, and had somehow managed to convince the receptionist to find room for my child.
I knew that it was paramount that my family arrived for the appointment on time. If we blew this chance there was no way any amount of begging and pleading would win a second one. Which was why I had allowed a full hour for a drive that should have only taken about 10 minutes.
Should have. Unfortunately, the directions given to me by the office staff had proven to be confusing, unclear, and just plain wrong. Half the streets I had been told to drive past had never materialized, and it seemed that the streets we were supposed to turn onto were elusive enough that I was beginning to suspect they had either been renamed or they had never existed at all.
I held on tight as my husband quickly made a right turn at my urging. But somehow, nothing looked quite right. We should have been in the middle of a series of medical offices, and this street could only be termed residential. It only took a few minutes of driving to realize that we must have made another wrong turn.
“Darn it! Sorry, I must have misread the sign,” I sighed. “As much as I hate to admit it, I think we might as well give up and go home. We’ll never make it there on time, and there is no way they’ll give us another appointment if we’re late to this one. Why would they give such bad directions?”
Tony made a block through the residential area and pulled back out into the main road. He drove for a couple of minutes, looking all around to get his bearings.
Tony was one of those rare people who had the most amazing sense of direction. No matter where he was he can always find his way. Put him in a city he has never seen, tell him where you want to go, and he’ll somehow miraculously get you there.
If he were a superhero he’d be Map Man, or the Right Direction, or, or…well, he’d be something that instantly identified him as the man with an infallible inner compass who always knew the right way to go.
But every Superman has his Kryptonite, and I’m afraid for my Map Man, it’s me. I must have my own personal magnetic field, because I seem to have an amazing talent for confusing directional issues.
Tony, tired of driving around aimlessly, pulled into a half-empty parking lot and turned off the car.
“Okay,” my husband said more calmly than I deserved, “tell me again the directions they gave you.”
“They said to turn left out of our driveway, and then take another left…”
“Wait, wait wait! The doctor’s office told you to take a left out of our driveway? How did they know that we would need to take a left?”
“Oh, they didn’t. I added that part. I knew we’d need to take a left.”
“So leave out the part you added, and read to me exactly the directions they gave you.”
“Well, to be perfectly honest I didn’t exactly write them down. I mean, you know how people around here say go north until this road, and then go west, or east, or north by south west. It is so confusing. So when I wrote them down I converted them.”
“What does that mean, you converted them?”
“You know, got rid of all that north, south, east, west stuff.”
“You converted north, south, east, and west to right, left, and straight?”
“Yes, it was easy. I just remembered that if you face north, east is to your right, south behind you, and west to your left.”
My husband closed his eyes for a moment and seemed to be muttering to himself. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but I’m pretty sure I heard something about the ‘lack of common sense’, ‘how can someone so smart be so dumb’, and that ‘it might be true that blondes are airheaded’.
I was beginning to get a bit miffed as he mumbled under away under his breath, but I decided that I should pretend I couldn’t hear him and keep my mouth shut. After all, if Tony put his mind to it he might be able to get us to the appointment on time. I evidently couldn’t. I could only get us more and more lost.
Tony stopped mumbling and pulled himself together. “So,” he asked in a voice he probably thought was kindly but I found patronizing, “what is the address again?”
“It’s on 15th,” I said, looking at my notes.
“Is that 15th Avenue or Street?” I could tell that he was trying his hardest to keep his frustration in check.
“Um, I didn’t write that down. I only wrote down 15th N.”
Tony slammed his hand down on the steering wheel, startling a pedestrian who just happened to be walking by as the horn beeped. Tony smiled and waved an apology to the pedestrian, and then turned to me.
“Sweetie, I think I know our problem. I know why we couldn’t find the streets we’re were supposed to find.”
I hated it when he called me sweetie in that particular tone of voice. It made me feel that he thought I had the brain of a 3 year old.
“How could you possible know why we were having so many problems just by hearing the name of a street?” I challenged. “I mean, we’re on 15th right now!”
“Very true. But we’re not on 15th N. We’re on 15th NE.” His response was smug, as if he knew something that I couldn’t possibly comprehend.
“15th N, 15th NE, what’s the difference. It’s the name of the street, 15th that counts, right?”
“Not quite. 15th NE and 15th N are in different parts of town. 15th N is on the other side of the highway. I’m pretty sure it’s in Greenwood.”
“Greenwood? I just don’t get it. How do you know what part of town by the N, S. E, W thing?”
“NW is West Seattle, S is south of downtown, NE is over here near Northgate…,” Tony looked at my face and sighed. I must have looked as confused as I felt.
“I’ll explain later,” he said patting my leg. I hated it when he treated me like a child. “We have to hurry if we want to get Becca to the appointment on time.”
I decided to let the ‘treating me like a child’ thing go for now. Tony evidently thought he can still get us to the appointment on time. I’d deal with his attitude later. Maybe. After all, I probably was the reason we had gotten lost in the first place.
Tony took a moment to get his surroundings and I could see the exact moment when his internal GPS system kicked in. He must have blocked my magnetic field and gotten his compass working again, because Map Man was alive and well and ready to save the day. Amazing!
“If we go this way….” Map Man began, but I grabbed his arm to stop his words.
I had seen a most unusual sight.
“Tony,” I whispered, “do you see those men? The ones right over there?”
“Why are you whispering,” Tony whispered back, “no one outside the car can hear you.”
“Over there, across the street.” I gripped Tony’s arm tighter. “Those three men who are dressed like old-timey aviators. They are walking like they have steel rods stuck in their back. All three of them. Do you see them?”
“Yeah, I see them. But even though they are strange, I think there’s nothing to worry about. We’re pretty near the U district. It’s probably a fraternity prank, or they have to walk around like that because they are being hazed.”
“I don’t know,” I said as I wondered if I could convey the weird feeling I had about these men to my level-headed husband. “They look somehow beyond U district strange….they look like, well, like they are straight out of an old sci-fi movie.”
“Don’t worry about it. Like I said, they are probably trying to join a frat. We need to get moving, or we’re going to be late.”
And again, the condescending pat on the leg.