Giving directions using long-ago landmarks

giving directions vacant lot.

Me giving directions to a newcomer in town.

I used to work as the receptionist for a small real-estate office. A guy walked in one morning.

“I’m new in town, and I just rented a house from you guys,” he said. “Do you by chance know where the FedEx pickup box is?”

“Sure,” I said. “Just go to the shopping center where the post office was twenty years ago. The box is in front of what used to be the veterinary clinic.”

The man frowned. “What are you saying? The box is next door to the post office?”

“No,” I said. “I’m saying it’s next door to where the post office used to be. The pickup box is in front of the old veterinary clinic.”

“So the vet isn’t there, either.”

“No. They moved away ages ago.”

“So there’s nothing there now?”

“I’m not sure what’s there now. All I know is it used to be the veterinary clinic.”

The man narrowed his eyes. “I’m not sure I know where you’re talking about.”

“Sure you do,” I said. “There was a pizza place in the same shopping center. It’s not there now, though. It burned down in the late 1990s.”

“I’m not sure if I was clear earlier,” the man said. “Did I mention I’m new in town?”

I looked at him, blinking. “Oh.”

“So how would I get to this shopping center?” the man asked. “Do you know what stores are there now?”

I shrugged. “I have no idea what’s there now. I know the FedEx pickup box is there, but I don’t know about any stores.”

“Can you give me a landmark? Anything?” the man asked.

“Well,” I said, “it’s across the street from where the gas station used to be.”

The man sighed. “So the gas station’s not there now?”

“No. They tore it down fifteen years ago. I have no idea what’s there now.”

The man glared. “I can’t believe you get paid to work here. Do you really consider yourself useful?”

“Well,” I said, shrugging, “I used to. I’m not sure I do now.”

9 comments on “Giving directions using long-ago landmarks

  1. This was awesome! Loved it and look forward to more! Janet Byrnes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do this all the time. Use landmarks that aren’t part of the landscape anymore. There’s so many store fronts and businesses changing locations, going out of business, etc. that it really is impossible to say what’s where anymore. Plus, you’re usually driving by these blurry locations and concentrating on other things…like driving.


    • I love riding in the car when someone else is driving, because I can actually see the roadside storefronts, instead of just the passing road. I’m always amazed by how much detail I miss as I’m driving. Those blurs in my periphery vision are actually places I’ve never visited, because I wasn’t aware they existed.

      When it comes to locations in town, it’s like time froze for me in 1999, and when I’m giving directions, I’m using locations and landmarks from 20 years ago. It’s as if I’m subconsciously trying to stop progress by refusing to acknowledge new buildings and streets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know why the guy was complaining. You gave awesome directions! Where else can someone get local geography and a little local history thrown in at the same time? (Actually, a lot of local history thrown in at the same time.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bun — I’m glad you see it from my perspective. As a newcomer, I’d have thought he’d appreciate learning the community’s deep and rich history. If not for oral tradition, future generations would know nothing about the past.

      As a public-facing receptionist, my duties went beyond answering the phone and making coffee. Indeed, I considered myself a local historian, a purveyor of knowledge — a storyteller tasked with recounting the spellbinding legends of our ancestors!

      (Only my boss didn’t feel the same way. She instructed me to focus on answering the phone and making coffee.)

      Liked by 1 person

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