Then, Take the Highway…

(With apologies to Andy Rooney…or maybe a salute…)

     So, you find yourself driving in a strange city, as if any city doesn’t have  various degrees of strangeness . There’s a certain angst that, I think, most of us feel about being lost in a new place…or, even being new in a lost place… possibly in an unfamiliar rental car, one that actually runs when you want it to… going someplace “where no man has gone before”.

(Does anybody else know they are lost when their ears start burning, or is that just me?)

      First, I love the ‘lady’ whose voice is standard issue on a GPS.  I sometimes get away from the designated route simply to hear how certain names are pronounced.

     Here in Nashville, there is a street, named after a Founding Father, that is McGavock Pike.

We pronounce it ‘ma-GAV-uk’…

GPS babe (?) Says, “MICK-guh-vock”

I love that!

She also says “TOE-le-do” for ‘Ta-LEE-do”

and ‘Waco”, as in Texas, becomes “Wacko”

     The title of this post is a direct quote… (Wait…can you directly quote a robot?)

“Turn right and then…take the highway!”

That seems like worthy instruction for everyday living.

     I’ve often thought that a GPS unit should have Homer Simpson’s voice for when you miss a turn. You know, a resounding  “DOH!!”

Or maybe Clint Eastwood..  “You feelin’ lucky? Go ahead….Make that turn! “     Anyway, that’s not the point.

       Again, you’re in a strange city…

     The GPS or Google map or Mapquest instructs you to turn left at a major intersection, followed by an immediate right.

The arrows are painted on the street.

     That might be very helpful in the middle of the night when your vehicle is the only one on the streets.  Problem here is that if there are other vehicles on that street, someone is going to be covering the painted arrows…

      How did the urban planners miss the concept that the arrows should be above…like where the traffic signals are…? Like where your hood and the cars in front of you don’t obstruct the view…?

So, you’re lost, first, and then you are in the wrong lane because…

     How are you supposed to know which of the six lanes is the RIGHT lane for turning left followed by a quick right?

     Chances are you then have to ‘turtle-head’ down in your seat and do the sheepish tourist wave as you forcefully creep your way into the proper lane, because you have no idea where the wrong lane might take you and if you can ever come back, were you to take it in the first place…!!!

…and the other drivers are doing the “Here’s what we think of tourists” wave…You know, the ‘wave’  that doesn’t use all the fingers…

     After breaking into a cold sweat…while your ears are burning…you decide to get out of the traffic and hide chill  in a local eating establishment until traffic and tempers die down a bit.

And there…

On your table are an upside-down bottle of mustard and ketchup.

     Well, in today’s world they’re not upside-down. And, yes, I know, these are both ketchups….the old and the new.

     Ketchup has been bottled and sold commercially for about 150 years.  (In the early 1800’s, ketchup was the primary source of tomato ingestion in America…the fresh tomato was thought to be poisonous.)

     It took this long for someone to figure out that if you placed the label upside-down and had the bottle rest on its top, it would be easier to use the product.  No more shaking the bottle like the first-chair maraca player in a Mariachi band…only to have the top pop off…No more sticking a knife down the neck to loosen the liquid and then using the knife to scrape ketchup from your shirt…No more tapping on the 57 symbol to create a ‘shearing force’ to temporarily alter the viscosity of this scientifically designated ‘pseudoplastic’ liquid… (As I have said before, the Internet is an amazing waste of time….tool!)  and then asking the waitress for a spoon so that you might at least SEE your fries under the red mound.

Why did this innovation take so long to appear?

What were the catsup engineers doing for 150 years?

     Was it merely the result of some glitch in the bottling machinery, or a hung-over, upside-down factory worker, that resulted in this ‘Eureka!’ moment in condiment history?

     And now you don’t even have to shake the bottle to keep the watery stuff from coming out first…the water is now at the bottom….er… the top…well, it was always at the top, but now the top is at…the… NVM.

     I wonder if the Department of Transportation could borrow the current crop of condiment ‘think-tank’ operators to come up with a way to get the traffic arrows in a viable, visible spot.

     This group might be the ones to see around the blinders created by years of ‘ This is how it has always been done’  thinking. Maybe they could inject a bit of upside-down philosophy into road markings.

(Actually, auto designers are probably already trying to decide whether it is best to project the arrows onto my windshield or have the vehicle wrestle the wheel from my ignorant hands. I just hope the car understands the GPS lady’s pronunciations!)

     These are some of the important things one might think about while washing the ketchup out of a white shirt in a hotel sink…or while trying to remove every encroaching grain of sand from your shoes if you ‘Take the highway’ and find the correct turn lane to get to the beach.

Speaking of beach…

     Why hasn’t anyone developed a product that connects your big toes together so that if you fall asleep in the sun, on your back, you don’t just burn the insides of your thighs. After a week on the sand, I find that I have two-toned legs with the inner thigh on the ‘well-done’ side  and the outer a little more… uh… ‘tartare’.  Well, actually more like uncooked chicken skin.  To see my tan, I have to stand splay-footed because the outside of my legs are untouched by ultraviolet rays.

(Not to mention the rectangular shape on my chest where the book falls simultaneously with my eyelids. But that’s a separate problem and I’m sure Kindle is working on a sunlamp device that kicks in if the screen is in contact with a large area of skin for too long)

     Maybe something like the ‘Chinese finger trap’…you know, as your feet naturally fall away from each other, it holds them tightly upright.  To remove it, simply consciously move your feet together…

Like Dorothy Gale…except instead of your heels, you tap your toes together to get back to Kansas.

     Hotel coat hangers leave much to be desired. The little clamps keep sliding apart.

      If you have any other earth-shattering, mind-boggling,  problems or solutions, please let me know so that I might add them to my ‘road’ time wonderings in the wise pursuit of the mysteries of life in this not-so-new millennium.

Or maybe….


I should just stay home more!…Like…out of the heat and stuff…

~ by rkpowers on June 26, 2012.

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