Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Small-town Directions

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on August 6, 2008

I’ve lived in a small town all of my life, except for 2 years when I lived in a “small” suburb of Chicago right after getting married. This small suburb had 4-lane roads (with a center turning lane as well) for its main roads, with most of the rest being 3-lane roads, and only the small side streets and residential areas being 2 lane roads.

During that space of time, I became used to giving and receiving directions in the way that most people probably think is the proper way to give them — you know, “Go 1 mile on Main Street, turn right on Whitaker Drive, go 3 blocks, and turn left on Park Drive, and it’s the 2nd house down on the right.”

But that is not the proper way to give directions in small towns! I just received this lesson (again), because I was giving somebody directions to my house, and I gave them the proper way (with mileages and the names of roads and such), and when I finally got done, the man on the other end of the phone said, “Oh, I know where that is — you turn right at John Smith’s house that owns the tire shop…. oh, you bought the Johnson house a few years back.” I changed the details for narrative purposes, but he was exactly right! If I had just known that, I would have just said it that way to start with. Of course, any time I attempt to give directions that way, the person looks at me like I’m speaking a foreign language, because he of course has no idea who the Johnsons are or where their house was or that it was sold or that we bought it, and he sure doesn’t know who the heck John Smith is, or where his tire shop is located! Sigh…

I guess I just need to start off asking, “Do you know Mr. & Mrs. Johnson? Well, we bought their place a couple of years ago.” Then, if they know, I’ve saved myself a heap of trouble; and if they don’t, I can still tell them directions the “proper” way.

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