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Nancy Giles Needs Direction

Nancy Giles, CBS Sunday Morning contributor
CBS
Sunday Morning commentator Nancy Giles has always had trouble following directions so she understands the value of good ones.


Here's a headline from last month: "Mother Assaults Coach for Giving Her Bad Directions."

Clearly this was an inappropriate response, but when I read it, I couldn't help wondering, "How bad were those directions?"

Were they the "manly," no-frills, numbers-only-type? "Take the 495 to the 3 to 17." Huh? Where am I going?

And the map Web sites are even worse. I don't want to know that Junction 12 is also Valley Highway, not to be confused with Old Valley Highway. Give me the information on a need-to-know basis only.

"Proceed for "two and six-tenths of a mile." How can you watch the odometer and drive at the same time?

I like women's directions. Women give you landmarks to keep an eye out for, and let you know you're going in the right direction. "Go straight. You'll pass a dinky little construction site, a farmer's market, and a big intersection. Next corner, you'll see an oversized stop sign. That's where you'll make a right." Isn't that nice? Tension-free? Directions that are direct!

I have directional "issues." When I got a job in L.A. and suddenly had to learn how to drive, and get places, my father reminded me when we all used to go on car trips, I was never very interested in how we got there. "You were pretty content to be a passenger, kiddo."

That's me; just happy to be along for the ride. Directionless! Even the subway is a challenge, and I'm a native New Yorker. You're underground, and the stairwells lead to the street, and I've walked up subway stairs for years, but down there I can't tell north from west. I always walk up the wrong set of stairs, then once I'm outside, I still need a minute to reconfigure.

God bless GPS - those Global Navigational Systems. A gizmo where you enter your starting point, your destination, then you slap that sucker on your windshield and it tells you where to go. "Take 9 North, for twenty-six miles." A cool, unemotional voice. And a bell rings to let you know when something's coming up. Almost like a landmark. "Approaching Exit 12. Turn left at end of ramp."

But say you improvise, because there's construction or you know where you are and don't need the gizmo anymore - watch out. The voice gets snippy. "Turn around at first opportunity." "Turn around." "Turn around!" Then an angry silence. Hmm. The GPS can't take direction.

Interesting...