Me and the Map Idiot
It happened many years ago on the mean streets of Buffalo, NY. We were on our way to the Federal Building, mired in rush hour traffic, to pick-up my roommate Al. He had enlisted in the Army Reserves, but at the last minute, decided that he didn’t want to go. He came up with a “brilliant plan” to get out of it. The plan must have worked because the day he was scheduled to ship out for basic training, I received a phone call to retrieve him. I took my friend Joe with me to navigate. Not my best move.
Me: Do you see where we are on the the map?
Joe: Yeah, I’ve got it.
Me: Do you see where the Federal Building is on the map?
Joe: I’ve got my finger on it.
Me: Okay, how do I get here from there?
Joe: I don’t know.
Me: What? Why not?
Joe: Just give me a minute to figure it out.
Me: What is there to figure out? You just follow the little lines from one spot to the other.
Joe: It’s not that easy; it’s like a ninety degree angle.
Joe: Wait, now I can’t find the Federal Building, it disappeared.
Me: Pick your finger up.
Joe: Oh yeah, there it is.
Me: You need to give me some form of instruction.
Joe: Take the next right.
Me: Right here?
Joe: Right here.
Me: Are you sure, this doesn’t look right.
Joe: Yes. Turn before we miss it!
I turned onto the weird little street per Joe’s instruction. It wasn’t right.
Me: What kind of street is this? It’s barely wide enough for one car.
Joe: I don’t know. It’s just a really narrow street, with big weird curbs and a bunch of wires overhead.
Me: What are those wires for… holy crap, we’re on the Metro Rail line! We have to get off this.
I immediately hit the brakes and threw the car into reverse. As I turned the wheel attempting to back around, the rear wheels bumped up against the curb. Then I pulled forward and the front wheels bumped up against the other curb. I repeated this process several times until I had successfully wedged the car between the curbs on either side of the pathway. We couldn’t go forward. We couldn’t go backward. We were stuck.
Me: You’re gonna have to get out and push.
Joe: I don’t want to do that, there’s a bunch of people watching.
Me: Of course they’re watching; they’re waiting for the Metro Rail to come around the corner and kill us.
Joe grudgingly got out and pushed. People watched.
As we attempted to extricate ourselves from the path of the Metro Rail, that was certain to come barreling around the corner at any moment and annihilate us, people were pointing and laughing at idiocy they were witnessing. After several attempts, we freed ourselves, bounding up over the curb with a thud. I pulled back onto the pathway heading in the opposite direction. Joe got back into the car and sat sheepishly. It was all very humiliating.
Joe: A homeless guy laughed at me.
Me: That’s rough for you.
Joe: He asked me if I was born this stupid.
Me: Perhaps he’s seen you read a map.
Joe: We were at a ninety degree angle.
Me: Okay Pythagoras.
Joe: Are we going to tell Al we got his car stuck on the Metro Rail track?
Me: We are not.
We pulled out of the Metro Rail pathway and back into normal traffic, and all was well…except for Buffalo PD patrol car that happened to be passing by at that moment. The officer did a double-take that would have made James Finlayson* proud, brought his vehicle to a screeching halt and poked his muscle-bound head out the patrol car window. And yes, he had a muscle-bound head.
Police Officer: Pull over.
We pulled over. He stormed up to our car with a scowl, and a definite sense of purpose. I began to explain to him what had happened, but before I could get the first word out, he interrupted me.
Police Officer: Do you even have a driver’s license?
Me: Yes sir, I have all my information right here.
He snatched the information from my hand as he glared at me. I could see myself cowering beneath him, in his mirrored sunglasses.
Police Officer: That’s not a street.
Me: I know.
Police Officer: You know? The fact that you were driving on it would suggest otherwise. Why would you be doing that?
Me (nodding toward Joe): Well, he was reading the map and giving me directions, and he said to turn there.
Police Officer: Did he really? You over there, Map Idiot, did you tell him to drive down the Metro Rail track?
Joe: I did tell him to take the next right. We’re just trying to get to the Federal Building.
Police Officer (refocusing on me): Do you just go wherever Map Idiot tells you to go? If Map Idiot tells you to drive head-on into the Metro Rail, is that what you do? You’re not going to make it to the Federal Building if you’re dead.
Me: I’m sorry officer, normally I’m an excellent driver, (seriously, did I just quote Rain Man) but I’m from a small town, and I’m not used to driving in the big city.
I wish I could tell you that’s not what I said, but it’s exactly what I said. That’s right, I’m a rube. But it worked, the officer chuckled a little and immediately softened. He gave us instructions to the Federal building, told us to be careful, and sent us on our way. We safely reached the Federal Building where we found Al waiting for us.
Me: So you got out of it?
Me: What did you tell them?
Me: Like what?
Al: Just something. I don’t want to talk about it.
Al: So, did you have any trouble getting here?
Joe: The police officer didn’t even give us a ticket.
Al: Why would you get a ticket?
Me: No reason. I don’t want to talk about it.
It was a quiet ride home.
Are you curious about Al’s “brilliant plan” for evading the Army Reserves? Stay tuned.