Friday, June 10, 2011

Lack of a Sense of Direction is Genetic

Lack of a Sense of Direction is Genetic

Barbara, as I have mentioned before has no sense of direction. 

She never learned to read a map and never pays attention when I drive her places.  As a result, she never knows what direction we are traveling, what street we are on, or how to get back from where we are.  She’s not even sure which way to turn out of the parking lot we just entered an hour ago in order to get home.

With practice, she can find places we go to a lot.  Any place we don’t go to a lot she hasn’t a clue.

I mention this because this lack of directional trait seems to have been passed on to my daughter and her cousin, my niece.

One time, when they were 16 or 17, my daughter and niece left the house to buy bathing suits at a store near the beach.  My daughter was driving and my niece was navigating. 

They managed to find the store (it was a straight ride with no turns) and bought some suits.  Now they were going to come home.

They, like Barbara, hadn’t a clue how to get home.  All that was required was reversing direction and going back the way they came, a straight ride.

They couldn’t figure out how to do that.  

They seemed to go in circles. No matter which way they went, they always seemed to wind up back at the beach near the bathing suit store. 

Like the Israelites wandering the desert, or the Flying Dutchman endlessly sailing the seas, they were doomed to continue their journey.

After a while they called us for directions. 
We tried to help them, but they remained in an endless loop of streets for another hour.  They kept turning East when they should have been turning West. 
They eventually made it home, but it is the stuff of Family Legend.

My daughter has gotten better, or so she tells me, I don’t think my niece has improved at all.

She is famous for making “U turns” whenever she is going places.  For those of you old enough to remember, the name “Wrong Way Corrigan” comes to mind.

Her mother and father have just returned from visiting with her.  She was driving them around during the visit and had to make numerous U turns to correct her directions.  At one point her dad insisted on taking over the driving as he feared they would never make it to their destination.

My mother was like this as well.  For her driving test she tied different colored ribbons on her hands so she could remember right from left.

One time she and my aunt drove from Delray to my house to stay for the weekend.  They figured out how to drive south to my house with very explicit directions from me.  When it came time to return to Delray I tried to give her directions back, but she insisted she could find the way.

Inevitably she turned right when she should have turned left and wound up in Miami.  It took her hours to get home.

Now that I think of this, perhaps it’s not a genetic thing as much as a gender thing. 

Since I don’t wish to get in trouble with the “Politically Correct” crowd, I will leave it to science to decide.

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