I don’t scream at the sight of a spider. Horror movies bore me. Rather than run, I relish the chance to speak in front of large crowds.
But one thing that positively sends chills up and down my goosebumps: Someone asking for directions.
I freeze. I forget if north is to the left or right, as well as which is my left and which is my right. I can’t drag the street name from my memory banks even if I’m standing beneath the road sign.
In short, the only time you want to ask me how to get someplace is when you want to be somewhere else.
That’s why I related to a Facebook meme I saw the other day: Staring out the window on a rainy day, Kermit the Frog muses, “Sometimes I wonder what happened to the people who asked me for directions.”
Some, I suspect, are still circling a cattle pasture in Wisconsin and muttering, “According to his directions, Lou’s Auto Sales and Fish Tank Emporium should be where that Holstein’s standing. Did he mean turn left at the tree stump shaped like Abraham Lincoln?”
I know people skilled at giving directions. They love telling people where to go.
“You can’t miss it,” they say.
Maybe they didn’t mean it as a challenge. It’s why I always go the extra mile — because I blew right past it the first time.
And often a second time when I turn around to try again.
This doesn’t dissuade directions divas. They are compelled to tell you where to go. If you don’t ask them every so often, they erupt like a geyser with random routes to anywhere.
I have no idea where they are sending me, but I know I will get there with precision.
Trailing the directionally-minded spouters like vultures to a carcass are the “I-know-a-shortcut” pests. These people, no matter where you are headed, know a faster path.
“Follow this trail and it’ll shave 45 minutes off your trip, easy,” they will say.
“But I’m only walking out to my mailbox. It takes like 17 seconds.”
“Trust me,” they’ll insist. “You’ll never go that old way again.”
I never had this kind of confidence giving directions. The only place I can get you for sure is lost.
Lost is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I go there often. Sometimes, I use my GPS to make sure I end up at good and lost.
My mind wanders off all the time. The rest of me might as well go, too.
Think of it as a public service. I’m providing practice for bloodhounds.
But am I lost? Perhaps it would be more accurate to call me an explorer.
The most fantastic adventures and wonderful discoveries are found right at the edge of lost.
Never has a bill collector or a boss tracked me down when I am lost. No responsibility or obligation ever sniffed me out when I am lost. When I’ve made it to lost, I can’t be found.
No, I take that back. The university foundation did — twice. The division of institutional advancement hunting donations from alumni possesses magical locational powers.
If you absolutely have to find a place, ask your nearest alumni foundation.
If you need to get lost, ask me. I’ll get you there.
GET LOST with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.