It was back when I was in the DC area a few weeks ago.
My friend (who left for Peru for two years for Peace Corps) lives in Arlington, VA, and a bunch of us decided to go visit her.
I woke up early on Saturday, before everyone else, so I decided to go for a run. I asked her mom (who walks in the neighborhood often), for a decent route. She explained to me the three-mile loop that she does, which I decided to use as a guideline for a much longer run. She asked if I needed the map; I responded that I wouldn’t get lost and I would be back in a little while.
Of course, you know what happened next. I got lost. But it goes beyond that.
I started off feeling good. I love running around areas I’m not familiar with, as it allows me to see different, new, and exciting sights. It was warm out, but I was happy to be out and about exploring Arlington and all of its beauty.
About a half hour into my run, I began feeling like I wasn’t going in the right direction. Remembering what my friend’s mom told me, I began looking for numbered streets (her street was off of 9th Street) and the name of any street (all the streets are two syllables and are arranged alphabetically in her neighborhood).
Unfortunately, I wasn’t in her neighborhood anymore, so none of the streets were alphabetical. I asked for directions to 9th. Ninth what, you ask? I wasn’t sure. In Arlington, there is a 9th Street and a 9th Avenue. Confusing, I know.
I asked for directions. A Spanish-speaking construction worker had no idea where 9th Street was. His fellow construction worker didn’t either, but proceeded to point me into a direction. I began running that way. I asked another person. She pointed me in a different direction. I asked another woman how to get to Red Mango, a fro-yo place we walked to the night before. Allegedly, it was far away, and in an entirely different direction.
I also couldn’t remember the name of my friend’s street. And I didn’t bring my phone with me. I’m an idiot, I know.
I ended up in a somewhat dodgy (read: sketchy…this word was acquired while I studied abroad in London) part of Arlington. I asked a man where to go. He told me to look at the maps located in 7 Eleven. Well, this is good, I thought. I’ll have a map and of course, people who work in convenience stores always know directions.
The map didn’t make sense. I still had no idea where I was trying to go.
I asked the cashier for directions to the shopping plaza near my friend’s house. He had no idea. I asked the other cashier. She had no idea.
In comes a weird man who allegedly “used to live in Arlington and knows the area well.” He pointed on the map, and then explained how to get back to where I wanted to go based on where I currently was. It didn’t make any sense to me.
I asked the cashier if they had a phone book. They didn’t.
I asked if they could call a cab. The cashier stepped outside to ask a random guy if I could use his phone to call a cab. I didn’t know the number for a cab and apparently no one else did either.
A woman in the parking lot, who was just about to pull away, saw me, in tears, lost and overwhelmed. She said her phone had a GPS and she could help me find my way back. I described the shopping plaza near my friend’s house and she said she knew exactly where it was. She offered to drive me. With no other choice, I hopped in. She had a cat in her car; she couldn’t be bad.
We pulled away and she remarked how creepy the guy trying to help me was.
She drove me to the neighborhood where my friend lives. We eventually found the right street (I remembered when I saw the street sign), and she began driving me up and down the street until I recognized my friend’s house, but I didn’t see it.
I used the woman’s phone to dial 1-800-FREE-411 and kept my fingers crossed that a search of my friend’s last name and Arlington, VA would get me my friend’s phone number.
After hearing what I thought was the right phone number, the woman driving and I split up the number to remember and I began dialing. My friend answered. She told me her address and it turns out we were driving up and down the wrong end of the street.
The woman driving turned around (probably about ready to push me out of the car by this point) and we headed in the direction of my friend’s house. When we got nearby, I told the woman she could drop me off.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yeah, I can find my way from here.” (insert unrelenting gratitude and thanks from me, and an obligatory response of, “Really, it was no problem. Don’t worry about it.”)
Then, “Famous last words. Good luck!” she replied.
I began jogging in the direction towards my friend’s house. Then her street stopped. It just…ended.
I started to panic, but then wandered a block over with my fingers crossed.
Her street began again. I found her house.
What I learned:
– Don’t go running without a phone or some kind of buddy (or at least the smallest bit of knowledge regarding where you began running, like the name of a street)
– Don’t believe anyone’s directions, because 90% of the time, they will be wrong
– Don’t trust your own sense of direction, because 102% of the time, you will be wrong
– Do trust a woman with a cat in her car (she is obviously a good person who won’t kidnap you)
– Don’t think that 7 Eleven cashiers can give directions, have a phone book, or know how to contact a cab company
– Don’t allow Gloria to go running by herself because she obviously lacks any sort of common sense