#298 Successfully giving someone directions in your home town

I ain’t good at much.

Seriously, when it comes to cooking I tend to burn toast, overcook pasta, and drown my cereal in white. Sports wise, I’ve been picked last in everything I’ve played — a broken-glasses freeze frame of me getting pegged in the forehead with a dodgeball would accurately represent my athletic career. And I hate to admit it but I’m a bit messy, too. Old roommates will tell you I leave dishes in the sink for days, somehow smear toothpaste on bathroom mirrors, and consider dust mites friendly little fellas who just need a good home.

I’m not good at much.

But I tell you, I tell you if there is one thing I am good at then it’s gotta be knowing where I live.

Yes, you can’t trip me up on that one. Zip code, street address, what’s your question, fool? I’m all over that like a fly on … fly tape. I know my streets, I know my shortcuts, I know my city, I know it well. North, south, east, west, tell me where you getting and I’ll get you there the best.

And shortest.

Way possible.

Point is, I love it when someone asks me directions in my home town.

Jacques Cousteau don’t know which big time call gets you to the power mall. Marco Polo can’t show you that secret shortcut driveway that gets to the highway. And Hernando Cortes don’t know the shortest route to take if you’re heading for a picnic down by the lake.

Only we can.

Because we live here.

And we’re


The Book of Awesome comes out in paperback today!


Photos from: here and here

47 thoughts on “#298 Successfully giving someone directions in your home town

  1. I love to help people find their way as well! I just hope I gave them the right directions.I tend to wonder if they found their way or not. haha!

  2. Yes, Neil, that IS something to be proud of! And getting thanked for your effortless knowledge is AWESOME too.

  3. I can never remember street names. I always give directions by landmarks because that’s how I remember routes. Turn left after the Subway and keep going until you pass the park with the creepy statues. Take another left after the park and go a couple more blocks and make a right after the gas station with the clowns on the windows. Then you’ll see the freeway entrance. Apparently people find this annoying…why they’d rather know the names of streets whose signs you can’t even read until you’re passing them is beyond me :P

    1. I’m with you. Landmarks are so much easier to spot! I learn to navigate an area by landmarks first, streets later.

      Of course, the problem with that is when your landmark disappears. ;)

      1. There is a commonly cited myth that when it comes to remembering routes and driving directions, men rely more on spatial intelligence vs. women who tend to rely more on landmarks (the evidence for this is inconclusive).

        However, there have been studies that have found that women have been found to use landmarks more often when giving directions and when describing routes.

        So… there you go! :)

          1. I remember getting lost in a taxi riding home from a punk show on New Years Eve one year. There was one moment where all I could say was “Someone please stop the car. I’m going to be sick. “

        1. My boyfriend hates when I give him directions because I always give landmarks when he’d rather have street names. He likes to use his GPS for navigation, whereas I prefer to either look at a map beforehand or figure it out myself, depending on how familiar I am with the area. The passive nature of driving by GPS doesn’t help me learn, but he swears that it helps him learn better. Go figure!

          1. I despise GPS. It’s always wrong and it gets mad at you when you know the right way and don’t listen to it. I don’t like being scolded by technology :(

            1. Yes! The GPS lady always sounds so annoyed when she says “recalculating route”.

              I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s always wrong, but it’s certainly not always right. I’ve got Google Maps on my iPhone, and I like to use that when I don’t know where I’m going. It’s got an option for turn by turn directions, but I never use it; I like to engage my brain a little more. The maps are helpful, though.

              1. Ugh. My ex was in love with the GPS lady. He even named her and would defend her when I told him we were not going the right way. Then when we’d end up lost and late, he’d say, “Well Connie doesn’t give me wrong directions when you’re not in the car.” Yeah…bitch had it in for me.

                1. “Well Connie doesn’t give me wrong directions when you’re not in the car.”

                  Uh-huh…of COURSE she doesn’t. ;)

                  1. Connie sounds like she is a cheap hussie..

                    Nothing like my Julie, who is a faithful and incredibly accurate Garmin.. She is wonderful. Thankfully, my wife knows not to make me choose between the two of them, because I don’t think she’d like the outcome…

                    1. Oh no! Not you too! What’s with all these GPS homewreckers and their seductive charms? Are there subliminal messages in those directions?

    2. Agreed! I hate when my male friends start directions with, “Just take Route 81N to 581 to 322 to blah blah blahde blah blah…” Who can navigate that way?! I have to have landmarks. I could very easily follow your sensible directions, including making that right after the gas sattion with the clowns on the windows. Now THOSE are directions you can seek your teeth into!

      1. Right? Clowns are so much easier to spot than some bent up old dirty street sign with half the characters worn off.

      2. Directions like that are fine when you’re familiar with the roads, but not when you aren’t. That’s why I like writing directions down; you get to include street names AND landmarks, and the person following them can follow them whichever way they wish.

        I live right next to train tracks, which are an excellent landmark because they’re impossible to miss, and even non-landmark navigators don’t mind, I guess because they’re sort of like a road. :)

        1. I completely agree!!
          Landmark based directions are way better (and cooler) than street name based ones.
          I am good at giving direction when I have a paper and pen wit me and I can draw the whole route out…I love doing this.
          My family usually gets directions from me in this form.
          With strangers I usually land up drawing the route out in the air and the person asking for it, in most cases just walk away leaving my “directions drawing” hanging in the air :(

  4. This is one super power I wish I had. Been living in this town for decades, and I still occasionally get lost. The worst is trying to find a friends house in a subdivision where they all look the same. Urgh! It does make my friends laugh at me, though.

  5. So, I lived in manhattan for 6 years after college.. and you come to realize that, in general, New Yorkers DO NOT like to be bothered on the streets.. they’re in a hurry.. they’ll push past you.. I’m pretty sure you could drop a few bags of groceries and have them spill all over the sidewalk and narry a person would stop to help you pick them up…


    New Yorkers LOVE to prove that they know their city well, so they’re always really eager to give directions.. I found that people would always stop to give you directions, and always seemed to feel very self-satisfied with the encounter..

    You try to stop to let them know that your car was stolen, you’re locked out of your house, or your hair is on fire.. they’re not interest.. But you want to know how to get to the closest F-train station or the quickest route to Tribeca and you’ll get 15 people trying to chime in with directions..

  6. Whats better than successfully giving directions in your hometown is being able to successfully give directions in a town that isn’t your hometown.

    1. I so agree with you there Kylah. I had just shifted into a new city and was still getting used to it, when somebody asked me for directions and I was successfully able to provide them. It was then that I realized that one day, I might start calling this city my own.

      1. I love maps, I collect them and I feel really really proud when someone ask me for direction when I’m in another city, cuz knowing that I’ve the map of that place in my head is… AWESOME!!

  7. HAHAHA I love it…
    “I ain’t good at much.”
    …but by gum I’m good at givin’ directions!

  8. The only time I am EVER asked for directions is when I am somewhere new and know nothing. Or if I am asked a specific street name. Forget it. What’s it near? lol

  9. the only thing more awesome-er than this blog post would be if on the very same day you received the notification of said blog post, somebody asked you for directions in your own home town… which is BOOM what happened to me today! it was like i got to experience 3 months of looking forward to vacation, the vacation, and the memories all in one shot. i hope that makes sense, because that’s what it felt like…

  10. i am living now since 15 years in Mexico City and it is awesome if I can help people in my new hometown …. feels really great.

  11. I wonder about this because when we are going to new place we doesn’t know anything about those place, so we move each and every step in any body of help, another wonder is if we don’t know their local language that is very awesome…..

    1. Chad, I would like to start out by saying that in general I’m an optimist whose default setting is to think the best of people, BUT in this situation, keep your wits about you, because you could be getting targetted by a pick-pocket.

  12. In the sixteenth century, there “once lived” a man named Tomas (Skelton) Foolery…said to be England’s last jester, and the one used in writing’s by The William Shakespeare.
    If ever you’ve heard “stop your fooling around,” apparently this saying comes from Tomas’ hometown. Deemed a trickster, prankster and possibly worse, he loved to lead the lost into danger, it is said, with a vengeance!
    Paranormal investigators have scientifically proven, Tomas’ ghost still travels and haunts beyond the valley and castle walls of Muncaster. (Recently deemed one of the most haunted in the world today, by the way!)
    If anybody out there has the contacts and would dare to take this tue story on, you stand to make a “LOST” fortune, as this is a journey of 400 years of “Twists in Time!” Plenty of the ground work already done!!!
    Hugh Laurie would be the perfect person for the leading role, as he resembles Tomas himself and likely has the courage to do so.
    *Also about post: Neil, this is a GIFT. Knowing where you live is as great as knowing who you are! And it’s a very kind gesture and empathic when you take the time with such compassion to give really good directions…imagine this because it tuly is…
    AMAZING GRACE, it is!!!

  13. Back when I worked at the deli counter of my local supermarket (settle down, Freddo), I used to get asked for “directions” to various products quite often. But my favourite was always when they asked where the bread was, because there was a HUGE bread display right behind them. Heh.

    1. Howdy J., my old friend. It is J, right? “lucky break” J? So, if you don’t mind my asking, how exactly did you come to find this blog? Cuz it’s a pretty big coincidence and actually, you’ve been around this old watering hole for several numbers longer than me.

      1. 1) heh heh heh.. jdurley handled the salami..

        2) well, J.?? We’re all dying to hear if you and Magda are long lost pals! Don’t leave us hanging..

        3) Please, please, please provide us with the “Lucky Break” story!!

        1. You want the Lucky Break story?
          You want the LUCKY BREAK STORY?

          You can’t HANDLE the Lucky Break story!!

          1. We can handle it like you can handle deli meats! Shave that beef, cut the cheese, and tell us the lucky break story!!!

  14. Even better: giving direction in a city that you are just visiting! The amazing feeling that you can navigate the place like a local…. AWESOME!!! :D
    The firts time it happend to my in NYC, I almost cried! ahahahahaha


  15. The picture really does it for me. I kid you not, in my old eastern European home country, there is an old man like that, sitting on a bucket, on every street corner, just waiting to give directions.

      1. Seriously…anybody???
        The path is paved for the “LOST” fortune…
        Have Map of Navigation through 4 centuries for this story to be told; truly the making’s of the best Stephen King Ever!

  16. I love it when hubby goes with me back home. I get to tell him where to go, how to get there, all the places I used to live and hang out. It brings back a lot of great memories when I get to share these kinds of things with him.

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