Maps for Creative Non-linear Drivers

Hooray! Pictures, Images and PhotosGoogle gets me. Someone far in the nether regions of some Google campus, deep in the bowels of some massive cubicle- filled room, some lovely Google employee gets me. I really need to send her a gift basket. While the rest of the world happily processes map directions, this woman and I, we drive to the tune of a different type of instruction.

I’m the person who when asked by a stranger how to get to the nearest gas station will say something like, “That’s easy. Turn left as you leave this parking lot.” (As I say “left”, my head and left shoulder make a decided left lean to indicated which left I’m referring to lest the traveler be puzzled and inadvertantly go to the right.)  “Then you go about 2…maybe 2 1/2 miles down the road, at which point on the right (reverse head tilt) you’ll see a giant mostly dead tree with turkey buzzards (hands now flapping) roosting in the top. Just past that there’s a road with a teeny weeny (thumb and index finger squeeze together to demonstrate just what is meant by “teeny weeny”, again, lest the listener confuse it with “massive” or “huge”) teeny weeny little road sign, almost like they didn’t really want to commit to giving it a name. In fact, I really don’t know the name ‘cuz the sign’s so small I’ve never really seen it.

Well anyway, at that sign, don’t turn. You don’t want that road. Go till you see a road with no sign, just past Joe Flitter’s Whippy Dip Ice Cream place. THAT’s your road. Remember, left at the Whippy Dip.  Soon you’ll pass three crosses and a kinda raggedly looking teddy bear on the side of the road where there was this nasty accident three years ago. Trooper said they thought they had it all cleaned up and “Kathwump…something fell outta the tree. And they were busy till dawn with… ”  And on and on it can go till the person is either intrigued by the local history lesson they’re receiving or are backing away…slowly…hoping they’ll be able to lock the doors before I lunge at them with my sharpened teeth. In either case though, they are hopelessly lost.

I’ve learned that giving directions are not in my skill set (or subset). That’s why I don’t typically give directions. I’ll defer to someone nearby who has a better chance of providing something useful…like say, the visiting relative from Finland who just stepped out of the cab.

But that lovely woman at Google maps has my number.

I was on-line today obtaining directions from my house to a place where I’ll be speaking in a nearby state. I plugged in my address and the address of the facility. I got my usual step-by-step directions and a lovely chunk’o’map that had been cut out of a larger map, saving me all that folding, salty language and getting lost that usually accompanies traditional larger paper maps.

Then I saw it.

An unobtrusive, perhaps even humble little button, completely unfamiliar to me…and yet, with a curious name.

Street View.

Street View.

I was calm but intrigued as I clicked on the shy button.  But what followed was nothing short of life changing.

Suddenly, along with the written directions so familiar to all map users, there exploded onto my screen PICTURES. Yes, I said it, PICTURES of just what the scene would look like if you were following the directions clearly. Someone had taken a little camera, driven the route I wanted to take and snapped little photos of it all the way along. God bless her and her little camera too!

For those of you who don’t think like me, this is totally useless if not bizarre. Fine. Say what you will. Go on with ya then. Follow your boring I-84’s and Route 475’s. Ease off your Exit Ramp 7. Proceed under the overpass till you can merge onto Highway 92. You can have it. Not only do they all sound the same, you miss so much of life, so much of the story that the road has to tell. You can have your written directions. I’ll take my turkey buzzards and Whippy Dips any day.

Bless you Google Maps.

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7 Responses to “Maps for Creative Non-linear Drivers”

  1. Alisha Says:

    ROFL! Well, hallelujah, I’m not alone! I thought I was the world’s most direction-challenged person. Both in receiving and giving.

    I am so glad to have found your blog, Carol. I just got your first 2 books for my anniversary present. I now feel like I’m not alone on this planet. 🙂 Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    • carolbarnier Says:

      You are soooo not alone. I collect friends who drive like me. One dear friend, as she holds the map sitting next to me in the navigator’s seat, will say “Turn left” and with her whole body will pivot completely sideways. Gotta love it.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Street View on Google is probably one of the world’s greatest inventions, ever! My boys and I have walked down intriguing little village roads in Paris and even used it to check out neighborhoods we are considering moving to. You can go to their webpage to learn more about it, how they do it, where they have mapped or are going to map, and how to use it yourself. http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/ In addition, they have also added user photos which are very nice because it shows pictures of special places during different times of year when Google was not there. This gives a different perspective on things. We love it for so many things!

    • carolbarnier Says:

      Oh my word, is THAT ever cool. I’m going to put in two destinations in Paris on Google Maps, just to see what it WOULD look like if I could get there and walk the streets.

  3. Jenny Says:

    I laughed out loud several time while reading this! We are definitely kindred spirits. I am also relationship oriented, and my family and friends are mostly task oriented, so thank you for putting my view into words!

  4. Glenda Says:

    ROFLMBBO!!! This is sooo funny. Both my grown daughters could get lost turning around in a paper bag!! And I can’t give directions w/o the arm movements. Thank you for the laugh!
    And Jackie, I Love your idea, think I’ll go see where I’d be if I was there.

  5. Megan Says:

    Again, a sigh of relief and a huge “Thanks Be to God” for finding a resource that not only will be helpful with my children, but for me as well! As I was reading your directions, I felt my body shifting to the right and/or left as appropriate. I would definitely be able to follow your directions – our TomTom with Mr. T’s voice is still a challenge, and I usually make at least one wrong turn. My husband lovingly used to say I could get lost in a shoebox. : )- My daughter’s softball coach would send directions this spring to each away game with the street views, and it was so helpful. Even though I may have previously been to the park, unless I saw it on the video, I would still be unsure of where I was going. Thank you for encouragement of like minds! Blessings!

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