greenbottletree











{11/09/2012}   Map reading and arguments

Surely every driver has had a map reading row with a passenger over wrong or lacking directions?  Driving is fine when you know the route, the roads are quiet and there is calm in the car.  As soon as you’re somewhere you don’t know, you need to plan an emergency re-route or you’re lost, having a passenger with a map and the skill to read a map is a blessing.  But when the passenger reveals they are incompetent at map reading/without reading glasses/unable to look down while the car is moving for fear of sickness etc, tension mounts and it’s rarely pretty.

I have not had any recent map-reader incidents but as I think about this, I know in the past I have used some choice language, shouted and seethed to the point of feeling my head is about to explode with the frustration of not knowing where I am or where to go despite having an adult in the car with me who should be able to direct me at least roughly in the right direction.  Then there is the final straw scenario whereby all you want to do is sob and that is what you normally end up doing.  I believe I’ve only ever got to that stage a few times, the last time being in a hire car, on my own in Sofia, Bulgaria having driven around for two and a half hours (to drive what should have been 20 minutes) in evening rush hour, completely lost, in torrential rain, on dreadful free-for-all roads, unable to read Cyrillic road signs and with a thoroughly useless map.

Being lost or reaching a decision-making junction is stressful so having a map reader to guide you is a huge relief and I feel it is a passenger’s duty to ease the stress in such a situation; teamwork.  Yet why are some people so utterly useless when in possession of a map and faced with the prospect of being confined in a small space with a ratty, potty-mouthed, harassed and shouty driver friend/family member?

I should add that I am avoiding the suggestion of a sat nav deliberately as they cause issues and infuriating refusals by some drivers to deviate from the sat nav’s directions.

I like to think I’m a decent and obliging map reader but I fear I am not the greatest at dealing with rubbish maps, though I do usually make a point of giving a direction when a driver begs for one, often having no clue where we are, what direction we’re now heading in, etc.  A decision and restored confidence is sometimes just about enough to get through the worst of driver stress!

I have one regular passenger who I struggle to maintain composure with when it comes to directions.  He has a tendency to suggest that we’ll “get there in the end”, ie without his having to reach for the map.  I have learnt not to ask him for directions but to pull over and read the map myself, demonstrating extreme smugness on arriving at our destination with no noticeable detours.  He is also a difficult driver to navigate for as he tends not to believe you when you, in full control of the map and where we are, tell him which way to turn.  Somehow, we don’t have arguments beyond the odd snappy or snide comment, but there is always potential!

All in all, you have to choose your passengers carefully when it comes to driving places you don’t know.  I understand and appreciate more nowadays why my mum used to spend hours poring over maps and writing out clear directions for places we went where the route was unknown.  My dad wasn’t big on map reading and her directions were usually so good that there would be no direction-related arguments.  Maybe I should reconsider the sat nav option, thus minimising driver-passenger argument potential and only leaving driver-sat nav rage.

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