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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Orange Cones of Impending Confusion

With the rest of the week off and dental work looming in my immediate (this afternoon) future, you'd think I'd have more to say than this re-post from almost a full year ago, wouldn't you?

Yeah. Me, too.



Every now and then, I don’t know where I am.

This is to be expected.

I was prepped for it as a child, where directions were given by the locals more often than not by referencing people and events from well before our arrival.

“Carlson’s farm? Sure! First you go north, just past the old Schmidt place, over there by where the feed mill used to be. You’re going to want to head east on the second possible right – not the first! The first right will take you to Carlson’s milk barn, and you don’t want that. Go past the first right, go east on the second right, then go until you hit the dirt road. It’ll be easy to spot, it’s just before the oak that was hit by lightning, the one split down the middle. If you go past the split oak, you’ve gone too far. Go until you see the Raabe’s mailbox – it’s shaped like a cow’s udder – then go another mile or so and you should find it all right. You’ll know you’re there when a pack of dogs runs alongside the car from the mailbox to the front door. You’ll want to honk your horn and let Arne come and get you. Them dogs are a bit friendly.”

Excellent directions! We’ll pack a lunch.

And so I became accustomed to being lost. We moved yearly (“It’s harder to hit a moving target!” chortled my father); and while the trailer we moved from park to park remained the same, the view outside the front door was always different.

“You’re not lost!” my dad would say. “You’re being challenged. Are ya goin’ to rise to the challenge, Miss Pearl?"

Absolutely, Dad.

But you don’t have to move to another town to be personally challenged.

You could simply follow the orange construction signs.

Minnesota is infamous for the time and money it puts into road construction. With the weather’s freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw pattern, the roads are capable of going Mesozoic at any time; and every year, whole cars disappear down potholes only to reappear, if the rumors are true, in China.

Everybody knows that those really deep holes go straight to China.

With road construction comes road detours. Detours that lead up and around, sometimes through. Detours for roads that used to go over there but now have plans to go over there.

One minute you’re driving from Point A to Point B and the next minute, via a large orange sign, someone’s tossed in Point C.

I don’t remember this, do you? Do you remember this road looking like this? Where am I? There’s an intersection that looks just like this in central Wisconsin. I couldn’t be in Wisconsin, could I?

No, you couldn’t, you silly person.

All over the world, people are frowning through their windshields, wondering if they’ve taken a wrong turn, perhaps having ended up in central Wisconsin. We’re out there, aren’t we, thinking we’re heading in one direction, sure of our destination, only to sometimes find ourselves surrounded by orange construction cones and unfamiliar territory.

Too often we ask ourselves if we are lost, but perhaps the real question is whether the markers we were told to watch for are still relevant to our search.

Because most of the time, you know, we’re not really lost. We’re just being personally challenged.

26 comments:

Will Burke said...

Oh yeah, those of us wanting to publish are in for a world of orange signs. Interesting times, indeed.

powdergirl said...

Ah Pearl,
I just love you : )

Mesozoic. Hah!

Yeah, My home province of Manitoba(we were practically neighbors!) is also heavily into the rad building too. Though you "Mericans are admittedly, much more enthusiastic about it. I love that as I live in the inadequately infrastructured, but truly lovely, BC. And its funny, I can drive for hours over logging roads, new and old, high up unfamiliar mountain ranges covered in snow, and find the exact spot some driller has left a pattern of bore-holes plugged with bright red drill-cones for me to load with powder and pop out of the way. Never missed a single one! But throw a coupla orange cones and a big old "DETOUR" sign onto a dead straight prairie highway? I'm screwed.
Fortunately, when I'm not pressed for time, I kinda like being lost. Who knows, I may one day actually find myself lost in Wisconsin. I hear the farm boys are mighty strappin' over that way : )

The run-on sentences are on me this morning, my friend.

R

Tracy said...

Love it! such a funy quip and reminded me that I am directionally challenged. Yes, in quite the way you were being from a tiny country town of 1,000 but also because I don't know my Right from my Left nor do I understand, N, S, E, or W!
It's ALL challenging to me!

Simply Suthern said...

My aunt used to come down off the mountain to vist. Things used to be more stable I spose because she got here by counting signs between turns. Come to think about it I aint seen her in several yrs.

Eva Gallant said...

What a great post. Living in Maine, I'm familiar with the remark, "You just cain't get theah from hyuh."

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I can do one better: I got lost in IOWA--the land of cornfields with the exact same white farm house on every single intersection. Oh, and their taxes are low for two reasons: no road signs and lots of gravel instead of blacktop.

jervaise brooke hamster said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a Broad said...

Oh god, I have to be posting to you after that nasty hamster?

Good luck with the Dentist !!!
We won't discuss the challenges of Not getting lost in a country where you are barely able to read the signs, forget about understanding someones directions !

David L Macaulay said...

err follow that...anyway that's an interesting post. I get a bit freaked by being lost in rural coldness, but I guess it's a cheap way to get to China.

Symdaddy said...

I would love to be able to get lost ... for a while, anyway.

I really, really want someone to have to search for and bring me back to civilisation.

But it never happens. I always know where I am, or at least where home is.

No compass required.

I always know where home is ... just don't always wanna go home, is all!

Symdaddy said...

By the way, I scoured the internet looking for dentist drill recordings to send to you, but I got fed up after two minutes.

It was a short scour!

Leenie said...

If your dentist prescribes Lortab for pain--DON'T TAKE IT--unless you are certain it won't cause you to barf up your guts for two days. Ask for Motrin Super Strong or some other kind of NSAID.

As per orange cones and barrels---my theory is they are like a skin disease of the earth. They infest different places and often spread and infect other areas. Occasionally they move up Interstate 15 from Utah like a pestilence and cause all kinds of problems.

Pearl said...

Pain relievers and I don't really get along -- I am one for whom the "side effects may include" commercials are made, so I appreciate the heads-up on the Lortab. It's just a temporary crown (got it two weeks ago) being replaced with a "real" crown.

I'm making home-made mushroom soup for dinner, just in case the whole "biting" thing doesn't work out this afternoon...

a Broad said...

I don't do well with some pain relievers but funnily enough, for being a super whiner, I have a high tolerance to pain.
What I like to do when going to the dentist is take tranquilizers ... anti anxiety meds ... sit there and smile for an hour and go home and sleep it off.
I had a dentist that gave me gas ... happy gas... it worked well also.
Best of luck ... tomorrow I want to see you SMILE :D

Donna Hole said...

I am perpetually lost! No matter how long I stay in a place, I always manage to "forget" just where I've been a some point or other.

I don't do well with detours :) Challenging, yes definitely.

.........dhole

Douglas said...

I used to give directions to tourists in Miami back in my mid-teens. Some of them may still be lost.

And we don't get potholes so much down here, we get sinkholes. They swallow houses. Only they don't end up in China, just Japan... cause we are more east than y'all.

Oilfield Trash said...

Road construction here is always ongoing. They never finish anything and they are always starting some new grand project without finishing any of the previous ones.

Camille said...

Hey Pearlie - made it back to NH from having survived the in-laws to find that nasty dang blizzard dumped a couple feet of snow on my formerly GREEN lawn. Sheesh. Now we're even. Wishing you luck with the new crown. Unless they pry your mouth open with a car jack and hold it ajar for a couple of hours you probley won't need too many pain meds...but that was good advice from Leenie. I find a Motrin and stiff drink always work wonders too.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Getting lost would be so much more fun if the GPS voice spoke like these directions ("In 100 yards, turn right at the mailbox that's shaped like a cow's udder.") You never fail to entertain, Pearl. I hope the dental work wasn't too painful. xo

darsden said...

Dislike button for Dentist please!

Wow, that was awkward said...

At least when you finally stop and ask for directions (again), you can also buy some cheese curds!

Lynne H. said...

Every time I come here to read I leave with a smile.. You really are a wonderful storyteller.. Being an Alabama girl by roots, just where the hell is "yonder"?

Dave King said...

Well, I didn't read it a year ago and I think it's fab'.
(My dad used to say "You are not lost, son, you just don't know where you are. There's a difference.")

The Jules said...

How's yer gob?

Roses said...

I'm the person for whom SatNav was invented and I still don't use one.

I hear 'you turn right after blah, blah, blah, blah'.

One of my jobs involved driving around a local authority district visiting small businesses and my boss would have his mobile phone ready for my call. He always managed to talk me through where I needed to be.

The upside: I found many places of scenic beauty and once I find the place, I never forget it.

I just need to factor in 'getting lost time'.

That Janie Girl said...

The traffic here is just unbearable. Oh, wait. I live in Midland. Thought I was in Houston or something.