Navigation has never been my strong suit. Among all my friends and family, I'm the last person you ask for directions or looking at maps. I'm notorious for ending up at Point F when I'd rather be at Point B--I'm still reminded by a few close friends of mine of the time I ended up at the Boise airport in an attempt to return home after Christmas shopping. Freeways and street names just confuse me, and I'm not ashamed at all to say that without my GPS, I'd likely end up in Canada somehow.
Unfortunately for me, this morning I found myself driving aimlessly along the roads of downtown Caldwell after I failed spectacularly at taking the correct exit from the freeway. Wonderful way to kick off the second half of Fall Term.
I returned to Caldwell from Meridian at around 6 PM last night, but I didn't realize until much later in the evening that I had left a few of my possessions back at my family's house. I wasn't too stressed about what I had forgotten, since I figured I'd have plenty of time to get to Meridian and back in the hour between my journalism and biology classes. I've made the journey back and forth dozens of times, so I didn't see the point in turning on my GPS. I set out from the Anderson parking lot after my first class of the day finished, retrieved what I needed in Meridian, gave my dog a belly rub, and was back on the road. I still had more than half an hour before my next class when I hit the freeway for the return trip.
Thing is, for the first time ever, I didn't take the correct exit from the freeway. Don't ask me how I missed it. I distinctly remember reading the sign telling me to exit right for The College of Idaho, but for whatever reason, I kept going straight. I'd blame the morning fog if I could, but by that time it had pretty much dispersed, so I can only blame it on my lapse in attentive driving.
Luckily I realized my mistake immediately when I actually registered that I had never taken this road before. I took the next exit and ended up parking at a gas station. Slightly flustered, I turned on my GPS. I still had time to get back on campus before 11:30 AM, when Biology of Human Diseases started, as long as my GPS could get a signal. It's usually pretty quick on the draw when it comes to validating my position and spitting out clear directions. It's a marvel of technological advancement, a boon to poor navigators everywhere...but still, it's a crutch.
I waited at the gas station for more than five minutes without getting a signal, leading me to conclude that technology could no longer be trusted. It was time for something more natural, something that the human race has managed to retain over thousands of years of evolution: intuition. I pulled out of the station, looked at the street before me, and made a snap decision, one that has served me well in the dungeons of the various roleplaying video games I've mastered: right is tight, left is for losers. Except I quickly found out that right was far from correct as I could find no visible landmarks to help my progress. The only thing laid out before me was open road, and with only ten minutes left before I needed to be in class, open road was the last thing I wanted to see.
I pulled a U-Turn, asked for directions at the same gas station I started at, and made my way to the road I decided not to take the first time. Then I quickly got lost again after forgetting the street name they said I needed to turn on, which resulted in asking for more directions at yet another gas station. The older gentleman that worked the counter told me to take a right on 21st St once I got back on the road, a street I didn't know existed.
I passed several numbered streets after taking his advice: 12th St, 13th St, 14th St...I thought it would be easy until those numbers suddenly stopped and I was on named streets again. I thought I made a wrong turn again until I saw this very distinctive sign you're seeing in the accompanying picture.
Ahhh, the Smeed Sign. The delightful beacon of anti-Democrat propaganda that C of I students pass each and every time they approach campus from the freeway. Never have I been more happy to see that sign, especially since I was now officially late for class.
I made it to campus and finally took my seat in class five minutes after it was scheduled to start. Luckily for me, the professor was even later than I was--she had been chatting with a prospective student and lost track of time. So getting lost didn't end my streak of perfect punctuality after all.
In any case, it's certainly been an interesting start to the next six weeks. On the bright side, I don't think I'll miss that exit ever again.
Clayton is a sophomore creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.