Digging for good directions

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, May 6, 2012

An old couple fought loud and often, so much so that the husband vowed to dig himself out of the grave and return to haunt his wife after his death.

     The fateful day came for him and a closed casket burial was held.

     Shortly thereafter, the wife was seen happily partying. Some friends asked about her late husband’s haunting promise.

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     “Let him dig,” she said. “I had him buried upside down. And I know he won’t ask for directions.”

     This joke that was emailed to me the other day, plus the fact that summer vacation time is fast approaching, got me to thinking about directions and how they’re given or received.

     I’ve noticed the quality of imparted directions varies greatly among people.

     Some people can be very specific.

     “Go out Highway 550 until you come to the second Bouie Mill Road, turn left and it’s the first house …”

     I often find these to be the most helpful, but travelers could get lost looking for details if the directions are too specific.

     Others tend to be a little more general.

     “Go about five miles from town until you see a wide gravel road, turn right and it’s the house with brown shingles …”

     When I hear these kinds of directions, I know the person has given them multiple times and is confident the seeker will find the desired address.

     The challenge here is the driver’s attention can be divided between the odometer to determine five miles traveled while also looking for the road. Plus, these kinds of directions don’t work too well at night.

     Landmarks and restaurants are common points mentioned when directions are given.

     “It’s the third driveway on the left after the Coffee Pot building …”

     This, of course, assumes the traveler is familiar with the landmark. (The Coffee Pot building is on South First Street, but I have no idea who or what is at the third driveway beyond it.)

     I heard a comedian one time observe that large people give directions based on places to eat. I don’t know if that’s so, but I can imagine the directions could be a long time coming.

     “Well, you go until you see the Tastee Freeze, and let me tell you, they got some gooood ice cream in that place. And the burgers ain’t bad, either. Turn right there and after a while you’ll see the Chicken Shack, although the chicken really ain’t all that …”

     In college, some of us would pull a misdirection trick on the freshmen.

     “You see that big, tall building over there,” we’d say to a nodding and appreciative head. “Well, that’s not what you’re looking for …”

     Of course, after our laugh, we’d help the poor underclassman find where he was going.

     Unlike the husband in the joke, I’m not opposed to asking for directions. However, I’ve noticed that I tend to be address-obsessive.

     That’s why I appreciate folks who go to the trouble of putting address numbers either on their mailboxes or homes, or both. On a serious note, those numbers make a location a lot easier to find for police, fire, the ambulance  and any other emergency responder.

     Another benefit of having an address is that it can be typed into a smartphone with GPS capability. With some phones, you can then follow your little blue dot to the desired destination.

     Whether giving or getting directions, I like to include a “too far” point, as in “if you come to such-and-such, you’ve gone too far.” I’ve reached the too far point too many times in my travels.

     Well, it’s about time for me to hit the road.

     Good luck in getting where you’re going.

     That’s all for now.

     Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send email to mcoleman@dailyleader.com.