From the Blog

I’m Bad At Giving Directions

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We’ve been living in Astoria, Oregon for over five months now. Before we moved here, we visited many times over the course of a few years. We like it here. It’s not a big town, you can’t really get lost. There are some bizarre starts and stops to streets, where a road might dead end in a steep hill, and pick up again on the other side. There are some significant geographic clues, like a giant river, or a big hill, that could keep even the dumbest of dumbasses from getting lost.

So just *yesterday* we walked up to The Goonies House on our way to get coffee. Finally. We had never gone to see it. My parents have been to Astoria twice, and they have seen The Goonies House twice. Even as we stood there for 30 seconds, at least one car pulled up to take a look. People visit from all over the world to go see this house.

Every time Dave wonders why people like that movie so much, I remind him how many times people have stopped us and asked us for directions to the Goonies house. And since we had never actually visited ourselves, we could only really say “it’s over on 37th somewhere.”

I’m a mindless people pleaser, and I always feel like I can give better directions than “over there somewhere.” So invariably, I try to give more detailed instructions. I have a pretty good sense of direction and I rarely get lost when I’m actually out driving. Or if I get mixed up, I don’t panic or get flustered. And I often think I can get somewhere without explicitly knowing where it is. I don’t know why I do this. I’m either geographically omniscient or overconfident. One or the other.

So I’m pretty authoritative when I give people instructions, even though I might not know exactly where something might be. The wayward travelers drive off with a wave and a smile and everyone is happy.

And then I remember that I forgot a detail. Or the road I told them to use is one way in the wrong direction. Or that street doesn’t go all the way through. Then I feel like a total, complete asshole.

Why do I do this? Why do I never learn? Most of the time, the directions I give are correct (I’d like to think), but isn’t the remote danger of leading a stranger astray enough for me to keep my mouth shut?

My immediate, overpowering urge is to help, help, help! Someone needs my help! And while my intentions are spotlessly pure, the results of my helpfulness are probably exactly the opposite. Unhelpful.

This keeps me up at night. And of course, I never see those strangers again. The uncertainty and the inability to apologize is agonizing. So I lie awake at night wondering if my directions sent them into the Columbia River.

So to all those people, if you are still alive, I am so, so sorry. Especially the guys who came all the way from New Zealand. Sorry, guys.


  1. beckaroo bonzai says

    oh, I do this too!!! sometimes….I even get to ‘wanting to help but not wanting to make a mistake’ I will just get in my car and have them follow me because it’s just easier and that way they can’t get lost. I’ve done this for complete strangers soooo many times…or mapped on my phone for people to see…oh…god. yeah. guilty here too!

  2. I SO relate to that!!! Great post Heather. : )

  3. Oh, and I think the technical term for this is “co-dependence”. Women excel at this. ;)

  4. OMG laughing so hard!!! i do this! that moment when you realize you forgot some crucial detail? when the shame flush surges through your body… my hands and feet even tingle with the shame surge. LOL!!! its a priceless moment.

  5. I feel like deep down I know how to get someplace but the thought inside never makes it to my lips in quite the same way it formed in brain. I end up pointing behind me even though they don’t need to head that direction at all. And all of my directions are in units of time. “Yea, it’s about 5 minutes down that road, make a right and go for another 15minutes…”. I just want to be able to WILL people to know what’s in my head, since my brain and mouth clearly do not speak the same language.

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