GPS Around the World

Republished because followers did not receive the map.

Usually I love the GPS in my car.  It does misbehave occasionally.  On the few occasions it goes badly, it goes very, very badly.  Today was one of those days.  Earlier in the week I signed up for a “bring your lunch” meeting hosted by a working actress.  I’m currently very interested in performing comedy and felt it would be a good complement to my total comedy immersion.  Having never been to a meeting like this, I didn’t know any of the people, wasn’t sure what was going to be discussed but I felt comfortable it would be a great learning experience.  The location of the meeting was on the other side of downtown from where I live and I’m sure isn’t less than three miles from my house.  Although I could picture the building I was going to and had been there before, it’s been a number of years. and there has been more recent construction which meant I wasn’t exactly sure what route to take.  So I left the house at 11:30 for a noon meeting less than three miles away.  As soon as I got to the car, I put the address in the GPS.  Huge mistake.

I’m very punctual for appointments so a noon meeting means no later than 11:55am.  From the very beginning I should have relied on my own sense of direction but I put total faith in my GPS.  The first turn took me away from downtown which was a bad sign.  A very nervous embodiment of my “common sense” had climbed out of my body and was perched on my left shoulder irritating me, I’ll call him Buzz.  The GPS was taking me to a very busy highway and Buzz tells me I should avoid busy highways for such a short trip at a busy time of day. Although I completely agreed, I stayed quiet and entered the highway.  Once on the highway, the GPS directed me to transfer to another highway within a mile.  Buzz pointed out that this highway had the potential for taking me to the eastern edge of downtown when my destination was almost directly south.  I asked Buzz to be patient because the GPS was probably leading me to an early exit and would then navigate me through downtown.  How I wished Buzz was wrong but he was right. I was led to exit at the end of the highway on the east side of downtown.  The exit put me onto the third highway following the GPS directions.  Buzz was trying not to say “I told you so” but giggling speaks volumes and it was 11:55.  Within another mile or so, I was directed to switch onto yet a fourth highway, but as I told Buzz, this highway is going to be the one because it passes within eyesight of my target I could see in the distance.  As I see my target getting closer, I am listening closely to the GPS for the exit to take.  I’m getting a little nervous as my car is side by side with my destination and strong frustration as I see my target in my rear view.  Buzz knew I was getting angry with the GPS as I crossed the river separating the two halves of the city so he quietly slipped from sight returning to his perch in my body.  My GPS finally gives me the exit to take.  It is the second exit on the wrong side of the river where I’m instructed to make a U-turn, get back on the same highway and drive back toward downtown.  I turned the GPS off, took the first exit on the wrong side of the river and started my return route determined to find my way without the GPS.  My strategy was to keep an eye on my target which was visible and simply keep heading that way.  Despite a short issue with parking, I was there in no time arriving at 12:15.

I leapt from my car and ran into the building knowing nothing could slow me down now.  The elevators were there but so was the reception desk with the dreaded sign reading: “sign in please”.  I completed a short biography, took the elevator to the correct floor and headed toward the office where the working lunch was probably well under way.  The office suite seemed to be about three miles away but finally saw the suite number.  Even though I was inexcusably late, I took a moment to make sure I was presentable – you know, hat properly centered on my head (no Frank Sinatra here), fly zipped, wipe the perspiration off my forehead, etc.  With as much confidence as I could muster, I pushed the door open.  There were two ladies eating lunch in the office who looked up as if I surprised them.  Still standing in the doorway, I introduced myself and asked if one of the ladies was the actress hosting the meeting.  That broke the ice and Jill Nastasia gave me the good news that the actress had been selected for a role and the last limit.  The bad news was that the meeting had been cancelled at the last minute as well.  My concentration on the GPS had kept me from getting the notice. 

While genuinely happy for the actress, I began thinking about, after the long car trip, climbing back in the car and heading home.  Because I was highly stressed and felt my entire body was clenched, I was not getting into the car until I became a little more relaxed.  Shamelessly, I asked Jill and her associate Sara Aisenberg if I could join them for lunch and they graciously invited me to stay.  Jill asked if I was interested in acting.  I explained that my interest is in comedy but I am totally immersing myself in learning what I can and thought I might pick up tips on presentation from and actor.  Because of my advanced age I’ve got the pedal to the medal since I don’t have a training moment to waste.  I would describe myself as a faithful man, not a religious man, and I believe in an afterlife.  I’m looking forward to doing stand-up with terror and exhilaration in this world and the next.

As it turned out, both Sara and Jill are involved in this strange and comedic tribe I now seem to suddenly find everywhere I go.  I ended up having a true working lunch because of all the information I picked up.  We talked about our personal lives and I learned about comedy techniques I was unaware of.  Comedy practitioners seem to align themselves to their preferred comedy type (stand-up, storytelling, improv, etc.).  However, all people in comedy in my experience are warm, friendly and helpful.  I hadn’t even thought about the stress and frustration I felt when I walked in.  It had all melted away because of the kindness and knowledge of my new friends.  I thanked Jill and Sara as I was leaving.  They went back to work and I figured out my way home with a short and direct route.  At least in my case, I hope the actress I never got to meet has much fun and success with her new role.  You never really know what you’re going to learn until you open the door.

The map attached to this story shows you my actual travels.  The blue route is the GPS route I used driving to my meeting.  The red route was the way I travelled home applying common sense and my faulty sense of direction.