“How Do You Spell Lost?” (Cause That’s What We Are!”)

Pam Pollock
August 2021

I have always said that I could never be a Professional Truck Driver – heck, I could never be an Uber driver….  Yep, I am one of *those* people who can’t drive a stick shift.  I also stink at parallel parking; I think the last time I attempted that was about 38 years ago.  Traffic jams, driving in construction, and city driving all make me twitchy.  And then there’s the issue of directions – the bane of my existence.

I cannot read directions of any kind – road maps, instructions on how to build things, Nada, zilch.  I am a learner by watching and scribbling down notes.  I was ecstatic nine years  ago when we purchased a new vehicle equipped with OnStar and I have insisted that every vehicle since that SUV has the same feature.  I have become brave in my old age and now venture off on adventures into cities and different states and all areas of the boondocks because I know that all I have to do is push a button and I will be given turn-by-turn directions.  (Although I have had my fair share of direction fails over the years, but I’ve always managed to find my way home.)

With life starting to slowly get back to normal after the past 15 months of Covid, my two oldest granddaughters and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend in Columbus, Ohio.  I excitedly made hotel reservations that were very near to the American Girl and Lego Discovery Center in Easton.  We stocked up on TONS of snacks and DVD movies for the 3 hour drive.  We made it to our destination with zero trouble, other than a lot of bathroom breaks at interstate rest areas.

After we checked into our hotel, Google directions stated that the American Girl store was only .4 of a mile away!  We danced our way down a street and crossed another and just ambled along until we stumbled upon the store.  After a shopping spree and another bathroom break, we strolled down the street to find a restaurant.  After our fine dining (pizza, girls’ choice), we walked down more streets and found an ice cream parlor and a different Lego store with displays in the town square. 

We finally decided to head back to the hotel and that’s when things got hairy.  For the life of me, we could not find the hotel. We wandered around and around and around streets and more streets.  We enabled Maps on my iPhone and even asked Siri for help.  We would be told that we were .7 of a mile or .5  of a mile from our destination and then Siri would cheerfully exclaim, “You are at your destination!”  But we weren’t.  My oldest granddaughter looked up at me and said, “We’ve just passed the American Girl store for the 4th time and that fish sign for the 3rd time!”  She was wrong, you know, we actually had passed that fish sign for the 6th time. We would be following the directions on the phone, and it would suddenly flash, “Rerouting!”  I am not known for being a calm, rational and patient person.  I was trying my best to act nonchalant, but my mind was secretly doing a lot of $*&^@#^! thoughts!

My younger granddaughter was just going with the flow, doing little songs and dances as we trudged along and then out of the blue, she said, “Gaga, how do you spell lost?”  At this point, we had just passed that dang fish sign for the SEVENTH time and I spelled, “L O S T” absentmindedly to her.  “L O S T”, that sweet child repeated back to me. “Lost.  Cause that’s what we are!” My oldest granddaughter chimed in, “We really are lost, aren’t we, Gaga? Will we be able to make it back to the hotel tonight?”

Have you ever felt like a loser?  Because, folks, that’s how I felt in that moment.  I choked back tears and hugged both of them tightly and told them that we were misdirected, not lost and we would definitely be jumping in that hotel swimming pool very soon.  And somehow, someway, we made it back!  And then the very next day, we got lost again – but this time was not as long, and I found out later that our hotel is brand new and on a new street that is not recognized by Google Maps (or OnStar)!  The weather on the last day was a very humid 91º and when we finally arrived at my car to begin our journey home, we cranked up the A/C and I jabbed the OnStar button to get directions.  And then things went south.  I spoke with an OnStar representative, and he told me that the directions were being downloaded to my car.  And then I got an error message that my request could not be completed.  I punched the button again and was in contact with yet another rep.  Same error.  I drove to a different location thinking that maybe OnStar’s reception would be better there.  Nope.  Punch the button, jab the button, hit the button.  I did it all.  In fact, my granddaughter remarked, “Gaga, you have pushed that OnStar button 13 times to talk to people! Will we get home tonight?!”

Finally, a tech support person said that my OnStar was not working correctly, and they would record directions to get me home.  And they sent me in the opposite direction.  I finally got disgusted, hopped off I-270 North and jumped on I-270 South, then I took I-70 and I-79 to my house.  We arrived home hours later than expected and yes, we had several bathroom breaks.   I was thinking, “These girls will NEVER want to go anywhere with me again.”  But as we pulled into their lane, the oldest said, “Even with getting lost, this was the best weekend ever!”  And the younger granddaughter yelled, “L O S T!  We were lost but we had fun!” It’s true, we did! But the next excursion will have me printing out directions for both ways before we ever leave the house.