When I was 21, I thought I was King Dingaling.
I had a brand new truck.
I was an assistant manager of a major retail drug store (I shudder at that thought, now).
I was making good money (still shuddering).
I was getting the attention of two women, one of which would be my girlfriend in a month.
And it was Christmas.
For the first time in many years, I was able to get a Christmas vacation. Working in retail, that is something that doesn’t come easy. Hell, it rarely comes at all – especially when you are in management. And since both of the women I was pining for were with their families, I decided to go see my family in Pennsylvania.
Seeing how my parents and sister were going up early, and I couldn’t leave until after 6:00 PM Christmas Eve, I was to take my truck (6 months old!) up seperately and be at my uncle’s house just in time for the traditional one-gift-opening the night before Christmas. Since I had only driven up once or twice before, I had to get directions from my dad, as my aunt and uncle had moved since I had last been up. The directions were simple, or were supposed to be…
“Just get on 95 South. 95 is a big circle. Just stay on 95 until you see 66W (or whatever it is) and take that to Breezewood. There you can get on the PA turnpike and you should know your way from there,” he told me.
Piece of cake, right?
I followed his directions to a “T.” Well, more like an “I.”
I got on 95 and drove.
Granted, I wasn’t paying too much attention, as the only thing I was looking for was 66W (or whatever it is). I was jamming to a little Stone Temple Pilots (Core, if you care) and just driving and thinking ahead to New Years Eve (when I would see the girls) and driving and smoking cigarettes. And driving.
After about four hours of being on 95, I pulled over to a rest-stop to call my dad as this was the pre-affordable cellphone age. You know, it just didn’t feel right. I had been driving forever. The drive to my uncle’s takes about 5 hours TOTAL, and nothing was looking familiar.
I gave him a call…
“Where are you? You lost already?” He asked when he picked up the phone.
“I don’t think so, I’m following your directions, but nothing looks familiar.”
“Where are you? Are you at Uniontown yet?”
“No, I’m still on 95.”
“YOU’RE STILL ON 95? WHY THE HELL ARE YOU STILL ON 95?”
“Because you said to take 95 until 66 (you know) and I haven’t seen 66 yet.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” He said, “What is the last exit you saw?”
“Charlotte, next exit.” I told him. Still clueless.
“Son, listen to me. Turn around. Get on 95 North. Go home. Get up tomorrow and try again. You’re about to go into North Carolina. And get yourself a map before you leave.”
He was laughing as he hung up the phone. Confused, I hung up the phone and went into the convienience store and bought a map. In my truck, I figured out what went wrong.
Contrary to what my father says, 95 is NOT a big circle. It runs from Florida to Maine or something. 495 is the big circle. It is the Washington Beltway.
So I drove home, went to bed, left the house at 6 on Christmas day and was at my Uncles by 10. Amazing what a holiday does for traffic.
To this day, 11 years later, it is still a running joke for my friends.
I still say it’s my dad’s fault for bad directions.