I was lost and running out of time. Even though I still had three hours until I needed to board the plane, I still had to return the rental car and check a bag. Back home, I could navigate well enough without GPS– no cell reception, no problem. I’m a landmark driver– you know the type. If you don’t know anyone like this, there is a good chance, this is you. Directions usually go like this, “Take a right at the gas station, the one next to the pizza place, not by the school. Then go to the road Maria’s mom and tia live on until you get to the second light…” This was different, I was in a large city and the landmarks I made a mental note of when I first arrived were not helping. I kept turning right at Starbucks only to spot two more around the corner.
Before I lost the signal, I was 15 miles away. It couldn’t be that hard to find an airport. I started looking for a sign and even pulled over to fish out a copy of directions I had printed up in the event something like this happened. They were useless since the only sign I could see as I looked around was a milepost marker. Obviously I was on a freeway, I just didn’t know which one.The map isn’t much good without a starting point.
I thought about calling someone for help but without even knowing where I was, it would surely turn into a frustrating exchange and waste time I didn’t have. I eased back on the freeway and counted six more Starbucks before I pulled over again. I leaned back in the seat a little and gave my stiff neck a break. I leaned to the left and let my cheek pressed on the driver side window– the coolness was welcome. My eyes caught the door mirror– in the distance I spotted a plane descending as another headed for the clouds towards the sun. I had looked in every direction but up.
Technology is a tool and I love it but somewhere along the way I made a dangerous exchange– I don’t plan as well as I used to. I was so focused on the navigation system not working that I missed the goal. I needed to find the airport, a huge complex easily identifiable at a distance because of the massive planes landing and taking off every few minutes.
To some who have never known a world without talking gadgets that seem to take pleasure in telling me they need to “recalculate”, it might sound impossible. Even if it’s not impossible to find your way around without Siri, you might wonder why it matters. Learning happens on the internet and in real life situations guided by the talking box but we still need the kind of learning that comes with lots of moving parts experienced first hand.
The Vikings didn’t have Starbucks but they relied heavily on their senses to travel the globe. It is said that some could smell the dampness of earth from great distances. A seabird with a full beak meant a nest of hungry baby chicks and land were nearby. Other cultures learned to read the snow and all used the stars and sky as guides. They couldn’t Google it but they were able to find their way in the great vastness of the unknown. I want to find my own way out of lost. I want my sight back. The planes were landing and taking off the entire time I was lost. They were hidden in plain sight.