I don’t ask for directions.
This could be a trait I developed on purpose, as part of my “stereotypes are sexist”, barrel-o- laughs childhood personality bundle. It doesn’t matter if I forced it on myself, it stuck…. Now I’ve spent way too much time honing my personal philosophy (read: complete lack of social life) and after all the swirling around of morals and ethics in my head, I keep coming back to one concrete idea I try to live by: that you should leave people in peace and not give them unnecessary hassle. That includes rape, stealing (from an individual, I’m pro-piracy) as well as email and physical mail spam, murder, cold calling, street harassment, and using other people minding their own business as fucking information points.
Hassle is the bane of my existence, and I feel ashamed and dirty whenever I realise I’m guilty of hassle, which admittedly is rarely because come on, I’m awesome company. But I had to report my wallet and documents stolen yesterday and the whole experience sitting in a police station wasting police time made me cringe and squirm and feel like apologising. Yeah, police are public servants…and petty crime is still crime.. but I don’t pay taxes, so technically they don’t owe me shit. Anyway the idea that I have caused another human unwanted hassle of any kind is upsetting to me. You might think that’s bullshit, I’m an asshole, you know? But if you have read every instance of my being a furious knife wielding dick, you’d see it’s all in defence. When I get hassled, you see. I’m sweet and docile otherwise.
Howevs, I digress…..
I don’t ask for directions.
I’ve had flaming rows with friends over this. Once we were in Florence, me the only one who speaks Italian and both of us hideously drunk, wandering in a dark and gloomy area of the city… following a map a girl living in Florence drew on a napkin. I took the map and guided us down the river, and only after passing about 5 bridges without seeing any of the poorly drawn landmarks on the napkin, it began to dawn on us, we were going the wrong way. My friend was furious. I tried to continue lying about knowing the way but eventually we had walked way too long and without seeing any sign of bars in the area… I gave up. We had to double back, not speaking to one another, just boiling in hate, silently passing the wine bottle back and forth. She was especially angry because I refused to ask for directions from passers by, as is my nature, and I wouldn’t have her asking either because that’s the whole point of not asking for directions. Also, she didn’t speak Italian and if she asked in English I’d look like some fucking tourist. What happened was, the cartographer friend drew the map upside down (she was sitting across from me at the table) and labelled the streets the right way up… I think. I vaguely remember that was why I fucked up so badly at the helm of our expedition. Maybe that wouldn’t make a difference anyway. I’m a good navigator, really. In fact I very nearly bought the swiss army knife with the compass, but it cost more and didn’t have a scissors.
Anyway. I have had lots of fights like that, mostly with the same friend who likes to ask “just to be sure” even when we have a map… although fair enough, I’m not always reliable with the map… I had the same problem with the husband, he was a glutton for directions. This made me cringe, like he was crying in front of me or something equally shameful in a man.
And why don’t I ask for directions? Why do I prefer to go 15 blocks the wrong way instead of asking one person on the street for a second of their time?
Because, I hate when people ask me for directions.
If someone stops me on the street, or pulls up in a car, winds down the window and starts yelling at me, my first reaction is:
Oh shit, I’m about to be asked either for money, directions, whether or not I’m a prostitute, information about parking in the area, my phone number, a moment of my time, help for greenpeace, to sign up for a new mobile network… or to taste some new energy drink.
Of course it’s obvious there’s no free energy drink being passed around as I don’t see a single woman in a bikini or massive fake can of the energy drink containing more smaller free cans. So I know it’s going to take up time and I’m going to be flustered and made look like a dick or not have time to give a good rebuttal or say something crushing to a slimeball. I’m probably in a hurry, or I wouldn’t be walking would I? I only walk to get the bus to or from work. Walking to work, I’m always late… walking home I’m always in a rush to get back to my fortress of solitude and nudity and my computer.
And if it’s directions the stranger wants, I’ll just get confused and flustered. Even if it’s simple, and I know where to go… I struggle.
Errrr. Keep walking… eh… down the road… I mean, obviously…. yeah keep going straight… and then you come to… another road… shit… eh… I mean take a left… and walk down that road…for a bit… and then… eh…
and I know I’m being vague and not managing to communicate the map in my head to this person in a brief memorable speech, because I’m being put on the spot and I can find my way fine if I’m walking and I recognise things, but who actually memorizes how many blocks it is or anything another human will be able to use?
So I stand there, desperately trying to help a fellow person in need, and only confusing them… and sweating profusely and waving my hands about… and they eventually cop on to the fact that I’m useless and begin walking in the opposite direction. Come on… I tried. Jerks. At least pretend to start walking where I told you to walk, the beginning was right anyway…
Assholes. So I hate giving directions. And then because I know what a HUGE imposition it is, I can’t handle actually initiating proceedings for myself. Also you have to deal with the horrible responsibility of choosing the right person.
Some people are brilliant beacons of navigational wisdom. They pause, listen, and immediately give clear, concise haikus with estimates of walking distance, bus information, and then walk on, seamlessly concluding the normally awkward, horrible interaction and leaving you confident at least in the direction you should start walking.
“Ah, that wasn’t so bad” you think, and set off… and then after walking with purpose for 20 minutes you recognise the same fucking pub you were outside when you stopped to ask someone.
So you have to ask the right person. But who? If I’m on my own, I’m not asking anyone. No way. I’ll walk until I come to a train station and look at a map, I don’t care how long I have to walk. I’ll go to an internet cafe, and google it. I don’t care, I’m not stopping someone.
But with a friend, it’s oh so much pressure! My friend will hiss: Ask her! Ask him! And each one sends a resounding NO down my spine but I can’t verbalise my reasons to my pushy friend. I try, and she will get pissy.
Not that guy, he’s too old… he might leer…. Not that woman, she’s too old… she’ll probably think I want to mug her or she’ll be no use anyway. Not that young girl, she probably doesn’t know her left from her right. She looks like a moron. (Sorry, blondes… I have these prejudices) Not that guy… he’s disarmingly handsome. I don’t want him to think I stopped him because I’m a forward slut, and if I get eye contact it will be hard to pretend I’m not interested… Not that woman she looks like a bitch.. (sorry, blondes. I’m sorry. It’s a jealousy thing, but you already knew that didn’t you?) Not that guy, he looks like he won’t even seem remotely happy to help a young girl and I’ll feel unattractive.
So I always ask the middle aged, fat-ish, foreign looking woman. I feel safe with the middle aged woman. And she always looks like she knows where she’s going. Middle aged women don’t roam unknown streets- they have responsibilities and shit. But then she opens her mouth and I realise there’s a thick accent to decipher as well as crappy woman directions.
So please, have mercy. Do not ask me to do this.
I don’t need the stress. Even thinking about selecting a member of the public to rack their feeble brains for some usable knowledge, makes my eyelid twitch.
And when I’m at work, I get hassle all the time. Hassle that makes me want to help, but also want to say “fuck you, this is a shop… I have to be polite, but I’m not so fucking idle and bored I have time to google restaurants for you.”
Someone will come in and ask me how to get to the museum. I’ll help. I’ll point. Because it’s very close, it’s just across the road and a couple of blocks down. I don’t remember how many, but you’ll see it on your left.
“Ok ok thanks so much!”
And they’re gone.
And then a few seconds later, “Hi, I’m back… I just wanted to ask, do you know what time the museum opens?”
And I’m like, shit I do work near it, I should know that. So I decide to do the customer who didn’t buy anything a huge solid and google it. I instantly find the opening hours and tell them. This time, no fucking gratitude.
“Oh ok. Well if you have the internet, can you look me up some good restaurants in the area?”
I’m like… seriously? Do I look like a bored fucking volunteer tour guide? I’m busy, I’m at work in a place that is completely nothing to do with tourism, I gave you directions to the museum, because that’s what people do. I gave you the museum opening times, because I have the internet here so why not? I’m not looking up restaurants for you. Go to an internet cafe or a tourist information point, which by the way the city centre is full of, or ask in the fucking museum. I am not doing that shit. And when I say no, sorry, I don’t have time and I’ll get in trouble, it’s like “OH. Fine. Bye, thanks anyway.” As if they’re just being polite thanking me, but I really did nothing. Fuck them. Fuck those customer bastards. Not even customers anyway.
Reminding you I work in a hippie clothes shop, here are some recent requests I have had:
– Can I load my pictures from my digital camera onto your computer and then burn them to a cd?
– Do you have a new nokia charger I could borrow for a few minutes?
– Do you know where I could buy replacement see through bra straps for a bra I got in another shop?
– Can you look up my university website to see if my exam dates have been set yet?
– Can I put some of these paper windmills in your shop window (which is tiny) to publicize my new shop? (what? the fuck??)
– Can you give me the name of your wholesaler you buy these clothes off so I can go buy them directly from him and sell them in my shop? (seriously?)
– Do you sell mp3 player chargers? (No) Look, it’s a phillips ____. (No, I don’t sell any electronics.) Right, it’s just this charger, the wire is broken… look. (Right but this is a clothes shop) Can you fix my old charger? (NO ITS A FUCKING CLOTHES SHOP)
– Can I have some free clothes?
– Do you sell men’s boxers? (no) Where could I find some? (well, as a woman, I’m not much help there) Oh? Is there no shops in this city that sell boxers? (I don’t know, I’ve never looked. I don’t WEAR boxers.) Looks offended…
– Can I see the boss, I want to open one of these shops in my city. (oh, it’s not a franchise. there are just 2 shops in the city but they are both run by the owner.) Oh no, not a franchise. We don’t want to set it up, just for the owner to open one in our city and we would run it. (so you want to ask the owner of this shop for him to open a new shop in your city, fill it with stock, and then give you a job running it?) Yes.
– Can I just charge my laptop in this socket for half an hour?
– Can I look up all the libraries in this city and see which one has this book I need for my thesis?
Seriously, I’m sick of it. Every day, some weird irrelevant request that I will get filthy looks for refusing to help with. The computer is for logging sales and checking inventory and ordering stock and work emails. And yes, long hung over blog posts. But I would be in so much shit if I was caught using the internet for anything non-work related. It’s only worth risking it if I’m bored out of my mind.
And I’m not even mentioning the ridiculous things people ask me about that they think we sell. From outside, it looks like we sell hippie clothes. I can forgive someone asking for incense, or scented candles, or recycled paper. We don’t sell those, but it’s kind of the vibe of the shop. But the shit they ask for… oh man. People have no fucking clue.
And then it’s all “ooh recession, there’s no work for the young people…” and I’m meant to feel like I should be more grateful and feel sorry for people…
Yesterday a guy handed me his cv to give the boss. It was printed on a creased slip of paper the length and width of a good penis. (sorry dudes that’s my most familiar unit of measurement) It was a paragraph of text stating his education (fuck all) his work experience (2 months here, 2 months there) and his ability to speak 4 languages fluently. It also stated he would be unable to work from the end of this month to mid August, and from late August to mid September as he would be on holidays. At the end it said “I’m crossing my fingers, hope you call me back for a job!”. I’m just like, really? Really people? This is the grip on reality you have?
People of earth, I beg you. Fucking cop on.
Ask and you shall receive seems to be the philosophy of many, but it means ask someone relevant. I want a pair of shoes, so I ask in a fucking shoe shop. I don’t go into the bank and ask where there’s a shoe shop nearby. It’s wasting time. It’s presuming the other people employed in the region are tools, ready to release their salty load if only you pump away just right. But if you want spunk, rub a dick. Don’t go grabbing arms and legs and noses, you’ll just piss people off or wind up covered in snot. (nice…)
I hate people who think they’re the only ones wandering aimlessly through life expecting help from unlikely sources. I’m nice to people who are actually in need of help. (well, within reason…) But you forget when you ask me some stupid shit, that 20 other people think the same as you and are going to wreck my head today with shit I’m not equipped to answer.
Ask me directions if you’re really lost and there’s no information point or map in the area. Just don’t fuck with me, ok?
and that’s what I imagine people are thinking when I stop them for my needs.
So I don’t.
And I stay lost.
But at least I’m not hassling people.
Except for my friends, who suffer for my stubborn refusal to waste a minute of anyone’s time. So my friends march on with me, down semi-familiar alleys and back along the same again. And I waste a lot of their time. But it’s ok– they can’t hate me for it, because we’re FRIENDS! Damn I miss having friends around… maybe I should be nicer to these asshole morons who harass me all fucking day with their idiotic tomfoolery…..
….not! (said in a borat voice)