There must be something in the way that I look that encourages people to come and ask me for directions. I’m not sure if it’s the way I dress or something in my general demeanour but I get asked for directions a lot.
This isn’t even limited to the country in which I live. I am just as likely to be asked for directions in foreign countries where I clearly don’t even speak the language. I do often have a map on me though, and I would assume that this is why I am asked, or rather I would if it weren’t for all the other map wielding tourists that never seem to get asked. Maybe it is because I have a map but I don’t appear to need it?
Whatever the reason, it often creates interesting moments in my life. Somebody the other day happened to ask me to direct them to a road that no longer exists – an interesting metaphysical question that one. I listened out for the unmistakable Tardis landing noise just in case I was dealing with the Doctor in a new incarnation (female and possibly Brazilian at a guess).
While in Italy this year, Katherine and I went to the island Capri. We were going to have lunch in the town so we looked up some recommended places while on the ferry and decided we would explore the town in such a way as to head past each of them. So we established a kind of circular route which did involve some backing up on itself. Now while on holiday of course, or in fact pretty much anywhere, Katherine likes to take a lot of photos. While on holiday, however, things are a little easier for me because I generally use this time to read more of the guide book. I do this mainly because I know how much Katherine enjoys me explaining everything about everything we are seeing [ahem – Ed.] and I like to swot up.
There we were on Capri, Katherine taking pictures across the sea, and me leafing through the guide book when suddenly I heard some words, “Where you wanna go? I tell you.” I looked around but there was nobody there, I looked again and there was a quite small elderly lady down near my elbow gesturing toward my guide book. She said it again, “Where you wanna go? I tell you.”
Of course we knew where we wanted to go really, but I tried to be polite and so I mentioned the name of the restaurant. She then insisted on being shown the map, it seemed now that the only English she knew was, “Where you wanna go? I tell you.” Sadly she could not make out the map so she vaguely pointed us in the direction we had already been planning to take, I thanked her and then some time later when Katherine had finished taking her pictures we headed off.
After walking past the restaurant we had to kind of turn back before we could head towards the next restaurant, but I didn’t really want to walk past the lady because I worried that she might think that we hadn’t found the place that we had been looking for. I decided to head up a different route, one that looked like it would probably work but that I didn’t quite remember from the map. A few minutes later Katherine found another spot to take a photo from and I took the opportunity to take a look at the map. Suddenly I heard at my elbow, “Where you wanna go? I tell you.”
It was the same woman, she showed no sign of recognising us from our earlier encounter. I told her the name of the next restaurant on our list, she again wanted to see the map, which she still couldn’t see and then she pointed in the right direction.
For the rest of our time on Capri I was slightly fearful of opening my map, but she never did come back. But we did discover a new phrase to use whenever anyone gets out a map.