My Directionally Challenged Mother
Thank God that when she was in the US Air Force she was not some navigational crewmen or something like that. The USAF fleet would still be lost over the Bermuda Triangle or something.
When I was about six years old, my mother would take the family shopping, and of course, my brother and I would want to go play the new home game systems--- Atari 2600 and Intellivision. Consoles would be set up in the toy departments of stores across America, and parents would drop off their kids to be entertained while the parent shopped. The inevitable time came when the shopping would be done and the kid would be dragged away--- kicking and screaming, "But WHY can't i have it? I want that game! Please?"
Such was the ritual that my mother decided to break. Instead of her coming to the toy department, she told my brother and I to meet her in a particular part of the store at a particular time. When my mother did not arrive, my brother and I went to the Customer Service desk at the front of the store and said, "Could you please page my mom. She is lost."
The lady at the counter said, "Don't worry.. you are not lost. Everything will be alright." Apparently she did not comprehend the situation.
I repeated, "I'm not lost. My mother is lost. I know where I am."
The woman then proceeded to page, "Would the lost mother of Rhoda D'Ettore please come to Customer Service."
After a few minutes, my mother arrived, pushing a full shopping cart, "I'm sorry I took so long. I could not find Customer Service."
I was six years old, looked at the woman at the desk and said, "See... she gets lost even at the front door of the store."
A few years later, Mom decided to take us to Dutch Wonderland, an amusement park in Pennsylvania--- that part is important. Pennsylvania. The park is about 90 minutes Northwest of our home. After driving for a couple hours, my mother decided to send me into McDonalds with a pen and paper and ask for directions. I guess that even at 8 years old, I could understand the directions better than she could.
I enter the establishment, and the sweet lady at the counter said, "Honey, you are in Baltimore, Maryland." It turned out that my mother got lost in four states that day... New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. She turned us around and started over from the start. By the time we reached the park, we were only able to get on two rides before the place closed.
These events in no way stopped her from trying to get us to various tourist spots. On our way to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, my mother landed us at the gate of a "secret military facility". A soldier approached, M16 in hand, "Turn your vehicle around and remove yourself from this property immediately."
My mother did not understand this man's determination to eject us from the premises. "But, sir, we are looking for Busch Gardens. I have no idea where I am. Can't you help me?"
Agitated, the solder repeated the order, "Ma'am, you are to remove yourself from this installation immediately. This is a Top Secret military installation, trespassers will be shot."
At this point, you would think a 48 year old woman in a station wagon with 4 kids would just turn around. Not my mother, "I was USAF and a GS-11 with top secret clearance. My number was AA-02678-9 (I made up the number, but you get the point). Now, please give me directions back to the road."
I don't think she realized he didn't care what clearance she had 15 years prior... all he wanted was for her to take her car, bags, brats and leave. His response, "If I give you directions back to the road, then you will know how to trace back to this facility. Therefore, I cannot."
We kids started shouting out the window, "Please... tell us... trust us.. she will NEVER find her way back here. I'm shocked I'm not speaking Mexican by now!"
My mom always tried though. And we did make it back to New Jersey--- eventually.
Stay tuned for next week's adventure of "Short & Silly Saturday"