• Dev Friedlander

Directionally Challenged

Some people have a good sense of direction while other people have a moderate grasp. I have none. Until Waze came into being, I had to write out every step to a new place I was driving to. I would review the sheet like a test before getting into the car, and glance down at the piece of paper when pausing at red lights. And even with all those instructions, often, I still would find myself lost.


Waze has greatly improved my life. You would think Waze is a cure for the directionally impaired, and it would be if everything in Israel had an address. Yes, that’s right. Not everything has an address. Some buildings are between addresses, some building numbers have fallen off and some offices have moved and not updated their addresses. Its completely normal to provide this as an address: “Our offices are located in the caravans behind the police station by the entrance of the city.” Which entrance, there’s three? What’s the police station’s address? Take a guess. If you’re wrong, oh well.


I can’t tell you how many hours I have wasted going up stairs, across streets, knocking on doors and nearly fainting at the front desk trying to find these places. I can laugh about these experiences now, and so can all the people who have handed me tissues in the process.


One of my best stories happened to me the first year I lived in Israel. My oldest daughter had to temporarily change schools a few weeks into the school year because they didn’t have a bomb shelter in their original location, and rockets were being fired near to our city. I had to learn a new route to her school. Before I go on, I’d like to preface that this was before Waze was popular.


I asked a fellow parent to give me directions to the new school. They drew me a map and told me to head north. My husband took her in the morning, so I was heading out for the afternoon pick-up. I did my best to follow that map, following at least one of the streets listed on the diagram. I went straight, then right and somehow landed on highway 443 heading east to Jerusalem. I got off the highway and pulled over. I called a friend and sobbed into the phone “can you please get my daughter; I don’t know where I am, and I won’t make it to school in the next hour.”


My friend gave me very specific directions back. It turned out I was only a twenty-minute drive away, my daughter was waiting for me in my friend’s car when I returned. We laugh about the story now and I tell it whenever someone expresses frustration with directions.


A few tips on giving directions to someone who is directionally challenged:

· Don’t draw us maps, maps are confusing.

· Use the words right or left, the words heading north means nothing to us.

· Give descriptions of landmarks. Is the building across from a restaurant in the shape of a chicken? Excellent!

· Give a time frame. If it should only take ten minutes and I’ve driven twenty, I know I’m probably lost.


Will I ever get better at directions? Not likely. Do I appreciate all the exercise I receive searching for the building I am trying to locate, absolutely?! Am I grateful to Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine for creating Waze? Most definitely! Without it, I might still be circling Talpiot Mizrach, looking for a way home.

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©2019 by Dev's Writing, Devorah Friedlander