Thank God for GPS. Ginger and I took a short trip the other day because I didn’t want to leave her home alone. She sat in her crate next to me, I plugged in the address, and away we went. I enjoy driving around the Greater Boston Area now so much more now that my car has a built-in GPS unit.
When we first moved here before I had a phone or car with GPS, I either relied on the Street Atlas of Metro Boston—Eastern Massachusetts or turned to my friends for help. The atlas was informative, but tricky for me to use because each town is represented with its own page. Inevitably, I’d end up cursing the editors for their decision to arrange these towns in alphabetical order because I’d drive off the edge of the page. The town I had just entered might be 15 pages away. Flipping pages and driving safely don’t mix, so I either had to stop and look up where we were, or guess what to do next.
Asking friends could be equally frustrating or entertaining, depending on the day I was having. All my friends and acquaintances are very giving people and always offered numerous suggestions on how to get around the area. A friendly debate would ensue on the best route. Traffic patterns and construction being what they are around here means that the time of day you leave point A to travel to point B can mean the difference between your trip taking 25 minutes or 45. After settling on the best route, a friend would give me directions something like this:
“Drive toward Lynn. Take a left right before you get to Mary, Mother of God Church. (Really?) But before that, make sure that you are NOT in the right lane because you’ll be forced to turn on that one-way street where the construction is. (Thanks for the tip.) Go straight for a while. (A mile? A block?) When you come to the intersection where I had that fender bender last year, you’ll see a Dunkin Donuts. (Isn’t there a Dunkin Donuts on every corner?) Don’t take a left there, but drive to the next street and take a left. (Okay . . .) You’ll know that you are in the right place when you see Papa Gino’s. (Who?) Keep going. (Where?) Take the third exit off the traffic circle before my uncle’s insurance agency. (Good man, I’m sure.) If you miss that exit, just keep going around. Then go straight. (?) When you come to Thomas Middle Initial Insert an Irish Surname Here Square (What?), take the left that is kind of straight ahead. Not the really left one, but the other left that veers sort of right further down the road. (Help me.) The AOH is a little brown building on the right, set down from the road; you can’t miss it. (See you there soon, no doubt.)”
Now that I’ve been on the North Shore for nearly 14 years, I know my way around pretty well. My dog-eared map book doesn’t live in my car anymore. And if I do get a little confused, I consult my dashboard GPS. I feel like a genuine native.
You don’t have GPS? Well, drive past where they’re resurfacing the road near the Stop ‘N Shop. Make sure you’re in the second left lane that goes straight not left, and then merge right as soon as you can. The traffic circle that used to be there is now a light. There’s usually a truck parked with its flashers on across from the pub. You’ll know it when you see it . . .