I Would Never Lead You Astray
DESPITE MY CURMUDGEONLY REPUTATION I really do try to be a helpful sort of person. Like yesterday afternoon when a stranger asked me for directions. He was passing through town and wanted to have lunch at his favorite restaurant – “Chili’s” and he needed help finding it.
I was proud that I could give him simple and accurate directions. Follow my directions and an imbecile could find that restaurant.
“Just go down this road. When you get to the big courthouse-looking building, turn left. Keep going for a few minutes, then go under the Interstate. Keep going until you see their sign. It’ll be on your right.”
Simple, not too complicated, and absolutely accurate.
It was about ten minutes after sending that hungry pilgrim on his way that I remembered that our “Chili’s” had closed their doors for good last week. Business was bad. Their food was bad, and nobody seemed to be able to find them.
I have no way knowing whatever became of that guy. I do hope that he found someplace else for lunch. I haven’t heard about a starving man found in his car, crying, outside of the closed “Chili’s.”
This little tragic episode got me to thinking about all of the people I’ve tried to help over the years. Whatever happened to them? Were my directions correct? Did they survive?
I remember, while I was living in San Francisco, giving directions to some people who asked me for the best route to the casinos in Reno, Nevada. I never heard from them again and they had been friends of mine before they drove away. What really has bothered me about those friends as they headed off into the mountains is that my directions took them through the exact location where the Donner Party had met their cannibalistic doom in the 1840s. Too bad there wasn’t a “Chili’s” up there.
I’ve always tried to be helpful. If a wayfaring stranger asks me for directions I will do what I can. I have a good sense of direction. I know how to find North – and by deduction – South, East, and West. So, I am willing to help a traveler passing through on their pilgrimage to wherever,
If I don’t know how to direct them I will say so and suggest that they go
down to the gas station/mini-mart and ask them. Of course, then I have to give them directions down to the gas station/mini-mart. Once they drive away I have to wash my hands of them. At that point they are beyond my power to help them any further.
Over the years I have assisted a number of people. Living in San Francisco there were always tourists wandering around lost and bewildered. I looked like I knew my way around, so I was asked for directions quite often.
“How do we get to Fisherman’s Wharf?”
“Where can we catch the tour boat to Alcatraz?”
“Is there a Chili’s Restaurant near here?”
“I’m sorry, they’re closed.”
We may have created a whole new class of refugees – the Misdirected.