Why Not Take A Right Turn?


I had just gotten home from work last night and was in the process of fulfilling my obligatory responsibilities of putting the trash can out for trash pickup for today.  My telephone rang. Answering the phone, I discovered it was a neighbor who simply asked: “How was your day?”  For a brief moment we engaged in small talk.

I didn’t realize it until I was in the midst of talking about nothingness, but it seemed really strange. I had the thought, “I don’t generally telephone anyone without a reason. I wonder what he wants?” Generally, I have a purpose in mind when I initiate a telephone call.  Certainly that is true of my neighbor as well.  My word, the man’s a doctor. He leads a full life.  He, too, doesn’t initiate contact without some kind of purpose.  Why would he care about my day?

So I asked, “What are you doing right now?”  He responded, “I’m on your driveway watching you.”  What?  How could that be?  It takes about twenty seconds to move the trash can from behind the gate to the roadway and empty the container of trash from the back of my car.  How could he be on my driveway without my having seen him?

I turned around to look and didn’t immediately see anything out of the norm.  That was because I was looking too high.  He was sitting Indian style in the middle of my driveway less than a hundred yards in front of me.  I laughingly said, “I hope I don’t run over you.”  At any rate, we had a nice visit and it was purposeful visit.  He did have a reason for the call.

I’m still a little perplexed. How did I manage to initially drive past him without seeing him in my peripheral vision?  He had to have been within yards of my driveway when I passed him on the way to my gate.  Was it tunnel vision?  Was I oblivious to my surroundings and thinking about and focused on only one thing? 

I had also had an interesting experience on Tuesday.  I had driven to Houston for a mid-afternoon meeting and was staying over for another meeting yesterday morning.  You know me, I’m the “nice hotel – cheap price” guy.  Through Priceline I negotiated a 4 ½ star hotel in downtown Houston for $82.  Seriously the price was right.  As it turned out I had previously stayed at that hotel many times.  I’m not sure when the rating changed for 4-stars to 4 ½, but it is a very nice hotel.

At any rate, I was on my way to downtown Houston at the end of the workday on Tuesday.  Traffic was mostly not moving.  I remember something someone had said in the earlier meeting. He mentioned that he tries to drive the back-roads and stay off the freeway except that Houston no longer feels like it has back roads.

So I had a thought, “Why not call Siri and ask for directions?”  Initially, I thought that was a stupid idea.  After all, how many times have I traveled to downtown Houston?  Back in the 1980s I supervised staff when I worked for the State.  Their offices were located in downtown Houston.  I didn’t need a map to find my way.  For that matter, I have stayed at this same hotel many times. I didn’t need to know how to find it. I knew exactly where it was located.

What did I have to lose?  Okay, so I played the game. I provided Siri the name of the hotel and heard the customary: “Okay, I’ve found it. Do you want me to call or do you want directions”.  I asked for the directions.

I was shocked. The directions that popped up on the screen were suggesting a departure from the freeway. I was supposed to turn right in less than a mile. Could that really be right?  My first thought was, “This has to be an error.” You don’t get to where I’m going by taking a right turn in less than a mile.”

Once before I had followed directions in Fort Worth and subsequently found myself on the outskirts of town about twenty-five miles from where I needed to be. No, “I’m not falling for that” was my immediate thought.

Fortunately, I had a second thought: “Why not?”  After all, what did I have to lose?   I wasn’t going anyway fast anyway.  So following the map Siri provided and the audio instructions, I took the next exist with the intent of turning right on Heights Street.  No sooner had I turned right on Heights than I realized it was a bad mistake.  It was a bad mistake because the next slight right turn was to go east on Memorial.  So I was headed south on Heights and east on memorial would have been to my left, not my right.  This was a wild goose chase, so why go with it?  As it turned out, the slight right had signage for “East Memorial”. The street looped around to the other direction.

So what did I learn? I learned for the past thirty-five years I’ve been doing it all wrong. There was a faster way to downtown Houston than the route I had always taken. Besides that, there was no stop-and-go traffic.  I felt like a kid in the candy store. All it took to discover the new route was one right turn.

I had the thought: “Are there other areas of my life that could be improved if I had an openness to do it differently?  Whose to say?  However, I’m soon to find out.  I wasn’t already awake when my alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. this morning.  Consequently, it was without a lot of guilt that I turned off the alarm and opted not to get out of bed.  An hour and a half later, I knew I had overslept, but it felt right for a change.

Okay, so I’m still mostly a creature of habit, but who’s to say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’m still going to make it to work by 8:00 a.m. and my blog for today is shorter than I generally write. Perhaps, that too is okay.

I’ve got to go.  It is time to hurriedly get ready for work and get out the door. By the way, I got over 7 hours sleep last night.  That might be a good pattern to begin following?  Maybe you don’t have to go with the flow?  Why not take a “right” turn and do it differently?

All My Best.

Apple Computer, Inc.




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