I used to be an Army Ranger. I still retain a lot of those qualities, like my uncanny sense of direction. It's like I have a compass in my head. I tend not to get lost, maybe a little disoriented once in a while, but never lost. I've learned to trust in my sense of direction especially when I have what I assume are the proper tools to help me find my way to a new place. Maps for instance. I rely heavily on maps. And directions given to me by what I assume are reputable sources.
This usually works for most of the time, that is unless you neglect the chance of unknown probable being thrown into the mix.
(For those of you living in a cave, Murphy's Law is: "Whatever can go wrong, will")
Myself being Irish can understand. Us Irish love a good laugh, and Murphy, being Irish, always has a good one on me.
This morning for instance.
I had a job interview with Norfolk~Southern Railroad (more like a hiring session, there was most likely 2 positions open and 300 guys would show up, making my interview this morning very competitive) this morning at the Wyndam Roanoke in Roanoke, VA. These hiring sessions start promptly at 8 AM.
I had originally planned to leave last night and stay at a hotel in Roanoke, as I have about a million free nights at Comfort Inns from the time I basically lived in one for a few months. I had a ton of shit to do, and by the time I really had a chance to leave, I was too tired to drive.
So I decided I'd just get some sleep and leave early in the morning, which I did. I set off this morning early, around 5:30 AM so I'd have at least an hour for any problems. Since I had never really been to Roanoke before, I go the driving directions off Yahoo! Which I've never had a problem with in the past. Since I had a general idea where Roanoke was, I just needed what exit to get off at and where the hotel was.
What Yahoo! Gave me:
I-81 north, Exit 153, take I-581 east, exit 3, Hirshberger Rd. hotel on right.
Pretty damn simple, until Murphy came along.
I'll get to that in a minute.
So I'm tooling along from Athens heading east on Rt. 460... And the first of the unknowns creeps up on me.
I'm driving my 88' Ford Ranger pickup. 4 cylinder... 5 Speed manual tranny...
Up some really steep hills.
I couldn't get up to even half the speed limit on some of those fuckers, downshifted into 3rd gear. For most of my adult life I've driven vehicles with BIG V8's in them. Plenty of power. My little pickup is so anemic it can't even get out of it's own way on flat stretches, let alone a three-mile long 6% grade. I had a damn Ford Aspire pass me for Pete's sake! (Those of you who don't know what a Ford Aspire is, the car is so tiny I can strap one on each foot and go roller skating. It's called an "Aspire" because it's aspiring to someday be a real car)
It's taking for ever to reach I-81 in Blacksburg.
I finally reach I-81, and head north. I'm now looking at the mile markers because the exits correlate to the mileposts. As I'm nearing Roanoke, the traffic is getting really heavy and starting to slow down. I'm mixed in with a lot of tractor-trailers and the going is really slow.
I go to pass a whole line of trucks as it's getting on to 7:40 at this time and I'm only at milepost 142...
As I'm mixed in with these trucks I see a sign...
EXIT 143 ROANOKE AIRPORT I-581 EAST
Holy shit! That's my exit! It's NOT exit 153 but exit 143!
Yahoo fucked up!
Now I've missed my exit.
So now I'm switching over to "Cop Driving"... But again, I'm not in the familiar Ford Crown Victoria with a big V8 that I can put the afterburners on... I can't get over and have to go to the next exit north and turn around.
It's 7:50 AM by this time...
I finally turn around and scare myself at a few points, but make my way to I-581...
I get off at the right exit and find the hotel. I go screeching into the parking lot of the Wyndam at 7:58AM...
Not bad, if I do say so myself. And no one was hurt. Steve McQueen would've been proud.
I go running into the lobby, ask where the N&W conference room is. Of course it's on the opposite side of the fucking building.
I go running for it...
I get there, and the doors are closed.
A smarmy faced prig looks at me and asks "You here for Norfolk~Southern?"
"Yes sir" I reply.
"You're too late. It's already started. Get here sooner if you really want the job."
I could have choked him.
I think next time I'll try to ditch Murphy and leave the night before. It really sucked driving all the way back so early.
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden