I had no idea gender could impact something as common and ordinary as giving directions. I now realize, it does. Though I’ve always claimed to know that men and women see the world differently, it never occurred to me such differences would cause me any grief.
Sadly, I was wrong.
In order to visit a friend who had recently moved to a town about an hour and a half away (by Google Map reckoning), I climbed into my <cough> trusty, 1991 Miata, lowered the windows and headed north through the pastoral wonder that is rural Georgia. I also lowered the rear window, since the car is a convertible and the window unzips. This is a must on trips of any length since the window is made of plastic, and it has contracted some sort of malady rendering it nearly opaque. Opting for safe vision, I dispensed with comfort and noise control. I thus had an unobstructed view in all directions, something any driver of a tiny car will appreciate. After all, I was entering the land of the pulpwood truck.
These gigantic vehicles are often operated by folk who appear to have lately escaped the 19th century and who have little if no regard for those of us driving cars which could easily nestle right alongside some of the logs they haul.
Having dodged numerous such monsters en route to the meeting place, I kept looking, when possible, for the landmark indicating my final turn. Understand, I’d been dodging pulpwood (pronounced “pup-wud” locally) trucks all morning along with an assortment of grunge haulers, flatbeds loaded with earth moving equipment, and other more common but no less sizeable 18-wheelers. In short, I was in need of a beer and a quiet place.
The landmark? A Super-duper Walmart. I was told, “It’s on the left. You can’t miss it.”
Women, apparently, have a sort of built-in mechanism which alerts them to the presence of large stores offering discount shopping opportunities. They can ferret out these mercantile masterpieces with virtually no effort whatsoever. An internal light clicks on and automagically, some sixth or seventh sense guides them effortlessly to shopping Mecca.
Men have no such gear; we must rely on lesser senses.
So, as I made my way through the swarm of trucks, I concentrated on finding the alleged Wally World. Needless to say, it never appeared. I suspect it may have been hidden by one of the multi-wheeled behemoths with which I shared the road, but I later discovered this wasn’t the real problem.
It turns out, the Retail Land O’ Plenty actually does exist. It lies at the far end of several acres of pavement devoted to parking space, most of which is hidden by a Verizon cell phone store and other assorted retail businesses. My generic blinders kept me from seeing through the stores located immediately next to the road on which I traveled, rendering the gigantic Walmart building invisible. After zipping by the heavily camouflaged landmark, I drove blissfully on for another several miles until alerted via road sign that I was about to enter a different time zone.
My ensuing phone call, questioning the existence of the Walmart did not go well. But, I was given yet another landmark for my southbound travels. I located it and arrived right on time. No harm done.
I’m not blaming my friend for being female, or for having her God-given abilities to know where things are. I’m just guessing that had my friend been male, he’d have told me to watch out for the big damn trucks and look for the Verizon store.
Now, what does this have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing, unless I intend to continue writing stories offering a female point of view. Alas, my confidence in such efforts has been shaken.