One of the more popular adventure programs on the tube the past couple of years has been “Lost.” It’s about a group of people whose plane crashes on a desert island and they are good and lost. And they are terrified and cranky: I know just how they feel. One of the major fears of my life is getting lost, so why would I choose to experience it on purpose.
When I was a mere tot, I got lost in the big department store where my mom had taken me shopping. I took my eye off my mother for one minute, my short self got instantly swallowed up by racks and racks of clothes. I looked for landmarks, like the elevator we had come up on, and find nothing. My mother meanwhile was starting to get frantic, but then heard a familiar bellow, ”Mommy!” and we all lived happily every after.
A very frightening “getting lost” memory I have involved a big family picnic at some state park many years ago. When the party was over and we were getting ready to leave, someone was missing. It was one of the older boys and at first everyone assumed he could take care of himself. People called his name, and banged on pots, but he didn’t show up.
The adults were getting upset and their worries made the situation all the more frightening to me. The police were called and they joined the search as it was getting quite dark. After what seemed like hours, the kid wandered out of the woods and everybody packed up and headed home. But I still remember how scary it was and I vowed to use the old trail-of-breadcrumbs routine if it was ever me that was lost in the dark forest.
Today I still get lost, usually in a car. I’ve been lost in a Turkish neighborhood of Berlin, the warehouse district of Montreal, Fort Lauderdale airport and, would you believe it, St. Johnsbury. I’ve been lost on back roads so narrow only bicycles could proceed. I’ve been lost in Brooklyn in a really bad section. I’ve been lost on horseback.
But now there is help for the directionally challenged. A few years ago Mapquest came into our lives. Prior to a trip, we could tell our computer where we wanted to go and it would send us a print-out of directions from our front door to that of one of our far-flung children. It worked pretty well, although we still managed to take a few bad exits as we headed for Cincinnati, Charlottesville, Kansas City or New York.
Then came the miracle of all gadgets. Our son gave us a GPS (Global Positioning System) a few months ago and we don’t leave home without it. This tiny contraption has a little voice that is always calm and knowledgeable, although a little bossy when you stray from her directions and she needs to say, “Recalculate! Recalculate!” But that only happens when you make a rest stop.
However, as we fearlessly contemplate adventures on the road this summer, I realize that knowing how to get there will be the least of our problems. With the current gas situation, we can’t afford to go far enough to get lost.