Following Directions

One would think that a girl who has a GPS navigation system in her car and one on her iPhone would never get lost.

But that’s not necessarily true.

Several months ago, I did an article for the magazine about the free safety classes the local police department offered for women in my community.  I packed up my notebook, pen, and little voice recorder for the interview and headed my car in the direction of the police station.

Despite the fact that I am currently on the lam and could be arrested at any minute, at that time I had never been to the police station in this town.  I had a general idea of where it was, but I wasn’t absolutely certain. In fact, I didn’t even have an address for the police station to punch into my GPS system.  Someone  is looking out for me, though, because I happened  to see this nice boy in the parking lot of a bank.  He was wearing an orange jumpsuit, which made me think he probably knew where the police station was located.   I pulled up next to him and said, “Can you tell me where the police station is?”

He knew exactly how to tell me to get there.

A couple months later, I was assigned an article on an halfway house for women.  I called the director,  a woman named Tina, and she was practically jumping up and down for joy because the magazine was featuring her organization, which is a non-profit that operates solely on donations.

She started to give me directions to the house, but I interrupted her and said, “Can you just give me the address?  I’ll put it in my GPS.”

The next day, I followed my GPS to the address she’d given me, but when it said, “You have arrived,” I couldn’t see a mailbox that matched the house number she’d given me.  Straight ahead, though, was a driveway shared by two houses.  I decided that had to be it, so I pulled into the driveway and got out of my car.  A woman came out of one of the houses and asked what I wanted.  I said, “I’m Grace Adams, and I’m here to interview Tina for H Magazine.”

She said, “Tina ain’t here.  I bet she’s done forgot.”  That’s strange, I thought.  she was dancing over this interview just yesterday.

Then the girl softened, and she said, “Come inside.  Tina’s at the grocery store, and she’ll be back in a minute.”

I walked inside to see a teenager at a computer, a child sitting on the sofa, a toddler walking around wearing only a diaper, and a gray-faced older woman alternately puffing on a cigarette and hacking up what remained of her lungs. She asked who I was, and when the girl told her, she said, “What the hell’s wrong with Tina?  Got the magazine coming to interview her, and she can’t even make that appointment?”  Then she snapped at the kid who was sitting on the sofa:  “Get off that sofa and let the lady sit down.  Where’s your manners, boy?”

The girl called Tina and then handed me the phone.  I said, “Hi, Tina, this is Grace?  We had an appointment to do an interview for the magazine?”

“Oh, yeah.  I done forgot,” Tina said.

“No problem.  Do you think it would be okay for me to come back next week at this same time?”  I asked.

“Yeah, that’d be fine.”

I thanked all the people in the living room of that tiny house and left.  And as I pulled out of the driveway, I saw a little dirt road to my right.  Hidden in some bushes was a mailbox with the correct house number for where I was supposed to be.

I’d been at the wrong house.  It was just a bizarre coincidence that both places had a woman named Tina associated with them.  The real Tina was waiting for me on the front porch of the halfway house, just as excited about the interview as she’d been the day before.

I’m an idiot.

Maybe I could hire the nice boy in the orange jumpsuit to be my driver.

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