My co-workers know this. They also know that even when they give me to-the-mile directions, I will still call back to the office in a panic asking for clarification. ARay understands my lack of navigational skills too - when I'm supposed to be meeting him someplace I've never been before, he will tell me that the event starts thirty minutes before it actually does, just so I will have plenty of time to get turned around and right myself again.
The problem is, after hours, I am the one directly communicating with the client and trying to get directions that I can actually follow. Not only that, but around here, people give directions in a manner that I am quite unfamiliar with. See, in the city, someone would say something like this:
"Ok, just mapquest my address and that's the quickest way to get to my place."
Or, if someone is feeling generous enough to give me a shortcut, they'll say something like:
"Let's see, coming from Friendly Center, just go down Friendly until you hit the light at Holden. Turn right, onto Holden, then at the next light which is Cornwallis, turn right again. My house is 2.7 miles on the left."
Here's a typical "directions" conversation from an Alleghany or Ashe Co. resident:
Client on the phone: "Well do you know where Alan Wagoner lives? Because my place is just a couple miles up the road from there."
Dr. T: "Hmm. No, why don't you give me directions like I have no idea where I'm going."
Client on the phone: "Shoot. Let's see. Where will you be coming from?"
Dr. T: "Ennice."
Client on the phone: "Well, do you know where Paul Evans' store is on 18?"
Dr. T: "Um, no."
Client on the phone: "You know, that brick place that Paul Evans ran? I guess it's been closed about 5 years or so..."
Dr. T: "Oh yeah, that little abandoned brick building? I know it."
Client on the phone: "Turn right on the road just before it. The name of the road is Ridge Glen but someone stole the road sign so don't be looking for one.
Dr. T: "Oook..."
Client on the phone: "Then you'll go a little ways. You'll pass Anita Garbon's place - she passed away about 20 years ago, I think her granddaughter lives there now - and there will be a gate there on your left. I'll be waiting for you in the pickup."
Dr. T: "Is there an address I can put in my GPS, just in case I get lost somewhere?"
Client on the phone: "No, I don't guess so. That thing will get you turned around worser than lookin' up the directions on the dang internet. No, you'd better just foller my directions...and you won't have no cell phone service out here neither, so, just keep goin' until you see my truck or a bleeding horse tied to a post."
This is what it sounds like when I admit defeat and call the client back because I'm lost. Here's a conversation I had recently with a farmer's wife at midnight:
Client on the phone: "Honey, where are you? We thought you'd be here fifteen minutes ago!"
Dr. T. "Well I'm a little lost. I know where the funeral home is that you were telling me about, and I turned left at the road before it, like you said..."
Client on the phone: "Oh! No, dear, you were supposed to turn in at the funeral home! Come back to 221 and I'll talk you through it."
Dr. T: "Ok, I just turned in here at the graveyard at the left side of the funeral home, now where am I supposed to go?"
Client on the phone: "Go straight until you get to the place where they put the cremated people. Oh! I see your headlights - now turn right. That's right dear, keep coming...no, don't turn down the drive, you have drive off the road to get to the fence where the cow is tied."
Dr. T: "Wait, are you sure it's ok for me to..."
Client on the phone: "Well you're going to have to drive through the headstones there, yes, keep coming, I promise Mrs. Henderson wouldn't have minded - haha! good thing the ground isn't wet! - Ok, keep coming up the hill, do you see the light from the 4 wheeler there? Yes! Now get everything you need and pass it over to Frank; there's no gate. You'll have to climb back over the fence if you forgot something."
It's a good thing I'm not superstitious. I also had to take a potty break that evening - I couldn't see much by the light of the moon, but I'm fairly certain the tree I peed under didn't have a grave next to it.