On Saturday I had a presentation in Park Hills at the Mineral Area College. It was an early presentation and I left Saint Louis around 5:30 AM so to leave plenty of room for my mandatory stop at Waffle House on Butler Hill Road as well as leaving me plenty of time just in case something occurred on my way down.
When I give presentations I aim to be 90 minutes early when it is out of town. This was even more important for this presentation as an estimated 100 people were going to be there. Being late was not an option. However, several times on my blog I have had a story arc involving my GPS system and this story will, sadly, add another to the GPS dramas I have faced.
I put in 5270 Flat River, Park Hills, Mo, 63601 and the GPS took an unusually long amount of time finding the road. Eventually it did and after I left Waffle House I was on my way.
There is something liberating about traveling before dawn. I don't know if it brings back memories of my trip to Las Vegas that I wrote about in my book, or if there is something else in play, but as I headed down I-55 in the moments before dawn I had such a confidence within me. I felt alive.
Those moments of bliss would soon turn into frustration as an hour or so later I was in Park Hills and on Flat River. However, and I may not be the most educated person when it comes to saying, "Hey, that looks like a college!" but I didn't see any buildings that could even half pass for being a college. I followed this Flat River road all the way across US 32 and then I ended up at a mine.
My hopes went up as I quickly confused "Mineral Area" and "Mine". I mean, a mine has minerals, right? Well, I followed the road to the mine and quickly my hopes were dashed as this was a historic mine and is part of the Missouri State Park system so that meant it most certainly was not a college.
I now had some decisions to make. 1. Do I accept that I am lost? 2. If Q1 was answered as, "yes" then what to do about it? I didn't accept that I was lost so quickly so I drove back the way I came hoping that I just was blind to where the college was, but once again even I knew I couldn't be that oblivious to a college. I mean, a college is a big place, right?
On a hunch I headed East on what I think was Main street with the notion that I was going to stop in at a gas station and ask them. Isn't this the eternal dilemma, a guy stopping to ask for directions? I saw a gas station, but it was closed, I saw another and it was closed, and I saw a third one but convinced myself it was closed because I really did not know how to ask for directions.
It was now 7:30 and my presentation was scheduled for 9:00. In my mind time was running out fast as I wanted to be in the parking lot around 7:00. There is a reason why I want to be early and this being lost proves why I want to be so early.
I was now in a huge dilemma and as I pulled back up to Flat River I remembered I could look up schools in my GPS. Excited I pulled over and started going through the menus, but as excited as I was the jubilation never came as Mineral Area College was not in my GPS.
In my presentations I often state that I, and other people on the spectrum, sometimes resort to odd ways of getting what we need. I have a hard time simply stating what I need so I will use other ways to start the conversation. I knew my friend in Massachusetts, who is an early bird, would certainly be up as it was 8:30. Furthermore, talking over the phone would eliminate me having to go into a gas station to have a face-to-face conversation so I simply sent a text to him asking, "up?"
By doing such a vague text I had so many ways to explain that, well, if he wasn't up I could say, and I think I eventually did say that the text was, "sent to the wrong person". I did use that after he responded with, "Am now" and I was sure I had woken him up early. After a couple more texts I said I was lost and he said, "I can't read your mind, where are you?" and with that I called him.
Thankfully I did not wake him up, but out of fear for asking I instinctively said the text was sent to the wrong person. After those words were out of the way it was time to figure out where in Park Hills I was and where I needed to go. It took a while and I think his maps he was using also had the address down for the road that no college was on, but once he searched for Mineral Area College it pinpointed where it was and once I was told where to go I found it and arrived at 8AM.
After such an ordeal I am truly glad I need to be so early because if I tried to be just one hour early I would have been stressing out more so than normal and I would have arrived at the time I was supposed to start. What I also have learned, but will forget I'm sure, is that GPS systems can't be trusted. Oddly enough it will be one year in two days from when I gave a presentation at the Park Hill School District outside Kansas City. There too I got hopelessly lost because of my GPS. That being so I guess the moral of this story is if I am going anywhere that has a "Park" or "Hill" in the name I better get three different maps because those GPS systems can't be trusted.