Thursday, March 08, 2007

East or West … which way is best?

Traveling to a business shouldn’t be much of a challenge, especially if you’re a savvy traveler and know how to read a map. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read a map. It’s a requirement in the MitMoi clan. I can even read a topographical map – and orient myself with a compass. Traveling has opened my eyes to the variations between city streets and country streets. Roads and highways in metropolitan areas are better maintained than their county cousins. Street names and lot numbers in cities are usually more consistent than their rural cousins. When visiting customers I’ve learned to always confirm/ask for directions to their location. It prevents embarrassing predicaments like following Google Maps to the middle of a crop dusting runway when you’re expecting to find a gin or warehouse. Out west of the Mississippi, roads directions are always paired. They are either North and South or East and West. And that is ALL! If you need to go north on a road you’d ALWAYS look for a highway sign indicating North. It is the same with the directions of East, West, and South. When you’re east of the Mississippi – it’s possible to drive on roads that run North and South – but have East and West designations. For example there is one place in Mississippi where 54 East runs N and South, as does 54 West. It just depends on if you’re on the eastern side of a town or the western side of the town. This week I’ve been traveling all over West and North Tennessee. On Monday and Tuesday things went just as planned. Not only did we arrive at all our destinations, we were consistently on time – or slightly early for each meeting. Wednesday wasn’t so smooth. We left Memphis at 6:30 am – and traveled east. We were 20 minutes early for our first appointment, and 10 minutes early for our second appointment. Then we left for the third appointment. To reach our third client, my notes indicated we needed to return to the “town square”, follow the road three-quarters around, and follow Highway 54 West. So – we did. We returned to town and started around the courthouse square. Half way around was a sign for Highway 54. We turned. A quarter of a mile further it indicated we were on 54 N. Now – I knew we needed to be on 54 – 54 West – but how can a road be West and North? (see Mississippi map above). Assuming this was the case – we continued on our way. We even continued the 6 miles our directions called for – and then another 3 miles. Finally we figured out we were CLEARLY going to “somewhere else”. We turned around, went back to the town square. As we made the Courthouse circuit, this is what we discovered: TN 54 goes in ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS from the courthouse. North, South, East and West! Stupid Tennessee! Also – do you notice how TN 54E “magically” becomes 70 East? And notice the lovely NE 70A and 79? Really – what drunk cartographer was responsible for these roads? Because one of us drives fast (hmmmm, do you think it’s ME or my co-worker?), we were only 10 minutes late for our appointment! Good save! Total driving for yesterday was 190 miles. Last night we spent the night in Dyersburg. Today we began our visits 30 miles west of Dyersburg, then went another 12 miles south west, came back towards the east by 20 miles – then drove 88 miles NORTH to see a client who couldn’t fit us in at any other time. I didn’t mind driving north – out of our way – to see them. They’re nice people. What I do mind is one of the owners not being there ON TIME. I had clearly let all of our customers know we only had 30 minutes to spend with each customer – and this client was no different. Actually they had a bonus 15 minutes as we were slightly early for our appointment. Five minutes before we need to leave – he comes screeching up to the office, jumps out of his pickup, dashes into the conference room – and then wants a recap of our 25 minute conversation – with his additional thoughts and questions. I gave him 20 minutes of time, then got up and excused ourselves. I think he was slightly taken aback. “Uhhhh, I’m not done talking to you yet!” I smiled sweetly – but a few more pens in his hands and said, “But we must leave now. You don’t want to be the cause of my next speeding ticket, do you? They’re really expensive – and I’d bill you for it.” In the time it took him to process that piece of information we were out the door and back in the car. Today we covered 210 miles. Tomorrow are the last two client visits – and I’ll be on my way home by 1:30 pm! Look out Azitra, here I come!

1 comment:

Joe said...

I would have been so at home: I figured out a month or so ago that the brain damage has been causing me to confuse east and west (and right and left) since the accident. And it only took me three months to figure it out! Yay! :/