Up South

Like everyone else, I have several weaknesses.  These are some of mine, in no particular order:

~Having patience
~Resisting pizza
~Upper body strength
~Lower body strength (fine, I’m weak, are you happy?)
~Sense of direction

My sense of direction has improved greatly over the past decade, but I have had enough incidents prior that tarnished my navigation reputation forever.  My dad bought me local map to keep in my car, but I found it was much easier to just call him.

Me: “Dad, I thought I knew a shortcut to get home, but now I am totally lost.”

Dad: “Okay, where are you?”

Me: “There’s a bunch of trees and a deer crossing sign.”

Dad: “Seriously?”

Me: “Do you know where I am?”

In my defense, this is a testament to how highly I think of my father, that he would be able to know my location from such vague details.

My most difficult night of driving happened when I was 20 years old.  I was driving from Saginaw to Allen Park to pick up a friend, and then we were driving to downtown Detroit to go to a Ryan Adams concert.  I felt pretty confident, armed with my Mapquest printout to Allen Park.  Plus, my dad actually did a test drive with me to make sure I knew where I was going.  It was over three hours round-trip, but I figured my dad hoped it was an investment to make sure there were no more phone calls like the previous one.

I made it to Allen Park without incident.  I didn’t have directions to the venue in Detroit because I had thought my friend knew how to go there.  As we pulled away from her house, I learned that she didn’t know either.  Brimming with confidence from my successful drive so far, I hopped on I-75 towards Detroit.  It’s a major venue in a major city, how hard could it be to find?

I had never driven to Detroit before and couldn’t figure out how to get downtown.  Every time I took an exit that led me to somewhere downtown, I ended up being in a lane that took me back on a freeway.  I know what you’re thinking: oh, come on, how is that possible???


I decided that we would stop at the next gas station we saw so that I could get directions.  Of course, I choose a gas station where the employees didn’t speak English.  None of the customers did either.  A gentleman working was valiantly attempting to give me directions, though I don’t think he knew where I was trying to go, so it was pretty useless.  He was so friendly though that it gave me hope.

“Okay, I think I know which way we should go now,” I confidently said to my friend, as I pulled onto a one way street going the wrong way.

Miraculously, after we continued to see more of Detroit than planned, we finally saw the venue.  Now the problem was figuring out where to park.  We actually still had time before the show started, as our original plan had been to get to downtown earlier enough to go have dinner before the show (ha ha ha).  But showtime was fast approaching, and we needed a spot.  Continuing with the miracles, there was a little lot right by the venue that seemed too good to be true.

Parking was $20 in the little lot, but I didn’t care.  I happily paid the guy, proud that we had finally arrived at our destination.  Ryan Adams was amazing, and we were even able to meet him after the show.  By the time we got back to the little lot we had parked in, my car was the only one remaining.  Several men were standing around it though.  As we approached, a man yelled at me to stop.  I told him that was my car, and he said it wasn’t.


“Let’s just go,” my friend whispered.

Go where??  We needed my car, which in retrospect I appreciate wasn’t towed, now that I realized this was not an official parking area.

“That is my car,” I protested.  

He shook his head.  “Nope.”

“I will prove it!.”  I walked up to my car and stuck the key in the lock, unlocking the door.  “See?  It’s mine!”

“Oh, well,” he began, “there has been a lot of gang activity around here tonight, and we have been watching your car.  How about a tip?”

Wanting to just get ourselves and our illegally parked car out of there, I found a $10 bill in my purse and handed it to him.  “That’s all I have,”I lied, since I didn’t want to dip into my stash of twenties.  He smiled, thanked me, and they all walked away.

That story always ends so much better than people think it will.

We made our way back to Allen Park without incident.  I had almost attempted to enter a freeway from an off-ramp, but I caught myself, so I was clearly really getting good at this whole driving thing.  I dropped off my friend, who I never drove anywhere again.

It was after 1:00 in the morning.  I was exhausted and just wanted to get on I-75 North and head home.  I watched for I-75 signs and saw two: I-75 South, and I-75 Detroit.  

Let me explain something: I have always lived north of Detroit.  So Detroit, in my mind, is always south.  So seeing these two options caused me to pull over into a Rite-Aid parking lot so I could make the now infamous teary phone call to my dad:

Me: “Dad, I can’t get home!”

Dad: “Calm down, what’s wrong?”

Me: “Both of the I-75’s go south!!!”

Dad: “What??”

Me: “There are two I-75’s, and both of them go south.  One says south, and the other says Detroit.”

Dad: “Katie...where are you?”

Me: “Allen Park.”

Dad: “Where is Detroit in relation to Allen Park?”

Me: …

Dad: …

Me: “Oh.”

So if you are ever with me, and we are arguing over which way to go, just say, “Both of the I-75’s go south!”  I will likely shut up in shame and just go with your directions.