I read once that three things happen as you get older: the first is memory loss. And I can’t remember the other two.
It’s no wonder folks my age experience memory loss, though. It’s a wonder everybody doesn’t.
This is some of the stuff I should remember everyday: my name, address, lots of phone numbers, social security number, birthplace, ethnic data, email and Facebook addresses, URLs, dozens of passwords, several PIN numbers, the house’s security codes, blood type, doctor and dentist’s names, family and friends birthdays, bus and TV schedules, shoe size, dress size, pants size, bra size, and wherever it is I last left my purse.
Now get ready for a new one to remember. I was asked for it last week: my GPS coordinates. (GPS stands for Global Positioning System.) If you only need the latitude and longitude of wherever you are, you can get it on sites like “www.multimap.com.
Then commit the information to memory and you’ll always know where you are. Maybe.
Come to think of it, maybe my GPS coordinates could be my best friend. As a person who is spatially impaired, the only directions I know are up and down, left and right. I tend to get lost between my house and the garage. While I might be hopelessly confused as to where I am in Seattle, I will certainly feel better knowing exactly where I am on the globe.
My sister Joan was reminding me the other day of the time she and my brother-in-law Tommy came to visit us in Seattle. With Tommy driving, Joan in the front seat, and my friend Aline and me in the back seat – serving as tour guides – we proceeded to drive to a bakery we wanted to visit. Somehow, we accidentally ended up in Canada. According to Joan, our reputation as world-class tour guides was severely diminished. And we still couldn’t find the bakery. After that, when either Aline or I tried to tell Tommy which way to go, he confidently turned in the other direction.
As another example of my impairment, years ago I was flying back from a trip to the East. As I often did, I planned to stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to visit family before I’d continue on the rest of the way home to Seattle.
It was a night flight. I got engrossed in some paper work I needed to get done. When the plane landed, I packed everything up and disembarked.
Usually my sister was waiting to meet me in the terminal but she was late. I headed for Baggage and waited for my bag. The carousel went round and round while everybody grabbed their luggage. Everybody but me. Finally, I knew the worst – my bag was – once again – in baggage limbo.
Still no Joan. Dragging my briefcase, I stomped over to the baggage counter to irately report that my bag hadn’t shown up.
The young man working the counter filled out a form and picked up the phone. During a brief conversation, he put his hand over the receiver and said to me, “Well, they found your bag. It’s in Cedar Rapids.”
“Wait a minute”, I said, bewildered. “Isn’t THIS Cedar Rapids?”
At which, the young man sighed and returned to his phone call. “Never mind”, he said. It isn’t the baggage that’s lost.”
He hung up the phone. “So, where am I?” I muttered.
“You’re in Moline, Illinois”, said the young man. “The next plane to Cedar Rapids isn’t till 9:15 tomorrow morning. This was our last flight of the day. The terminal will be closing 30 minutes from now.”
So it was that I was able to call somebody to track down my sister at the Cedar Rapids terminal to give her the good news. Then I dragged my briefcase and carry-on case in the dark across a highway to get to a motel. There, I peeled off my outer clothing, got into bed and went to sleep.
About two hours later, came a banging on the door to the motel room. When I managed to get enough clothes on, I opened the door. Standing there was the Rescue Squad: my niece Rene, nephew-in-law Dan and their brand new two-week-old baby daughter Meghan forced from her cozy bassinet in the dead of night to search for her incompetent, wayward great aunt. I was saved.
At least I can find consolation in knowing my bumbling traveling mis-adventures aren’t so monumental. Check out the following: