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IN THE FIELD: The Language of The Lost

I rarely have concerns about getting lost traveling around the United States, since I figure we all speak the same language and I can always ask for directions. Although, there have been times when I did wonder if I was in a foreign country, or even in the Twilight Zone. Because I would hear the words, but they wouldn’t make any sense. It was as if they were spoken in a completely different language that only a local resident could understand.


Here are a few of my all time classic responses when asking for directions:

Yeah, just follow the signs…[why would I be asking you for directions if I could find the signs?]

Just go down the road a piece…[how big a piece?]

It’s real easy to find…[then why am I lost?]

What do you need directions for? [Because I have been driving around the same city block for what seems like an hour.]

Just on the other side of town…[is that the right side of town or the left?]

Follow this road to the second stoplight, turn right, no go straight, no maybe its a left [bye-bye.]

Well…ya can’t get there from here…[then how did I get here?]

You’re looking for what? You want directions to where? [bye bye]

Just down the road a ways, ya can’t miss it…[well, apparently I did, which is why I am asking.]

Which way are you heading? [If I knew that, I wouldn’t be lost.]

Do you want the long-cut or the shortcut? [Dude, I just want to get there…]

Go to the last traffic light in town…[ah man, you gotta be kidding…you do know I’m from out of town, right?]


Problem: Strangers and directions can be like oil and water…not always a good mix…

Solution: Bring a map, compass, or GPS…


  1. January 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    This was so nice, and I agree with you, dear David. You did a nice point. This post reminded me my Italy days, you know I lived in Milano without knowing Italian language… And always I felt myself as if I was lost in this city… Thank you dear David, have a nice day and enjoyable weekend, with my love, nia

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Glad you enjoyed this NIa, I guess giving or getting directions is the same, no matter what part of the world we live in!

  2. January 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    A fun post, David. 🙂

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Glad you liked it Bob…a little something light hearted for the weekend!

  3. Nandini
    January 27, 2012 at 9:11 am

    What a fun post, David. I really enjoyed it 😀

    And nice photo too. 🙂

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Nandini, It was a fun post to write and I am glad it brought smiles!

  4. January 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

    The photo is great but the directions? I am so cracking up here!

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:21 am

      I think who ever drew the arrows in the snow was directionally challenged…or was thinking the same thing I was. When I saw it, I just couldn’t resist getting a quick snapshot. Even the footprints are confused! Every time I see this picture I just have to laugh…

  5. January 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I love your post, i almost always carry a map – then ask “where am I”? that will get you some confused looks!!!!
    This happens when emerging from the subway to street level – where i am definitely directionally challenged for a couple of minutes!
    but as a traveller and a photographer it is worth getting lost occassionally! happy shooting!

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Glad you enjoyed this…it was fun to write! I agree…getting lost does have it’s merits…one never knows what is around the next corner! Emerging from a subway has always been a challenge for me too…lack of use I guess.

  6. January 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Photo is great – someone needs a refresher course on directions! I used to travel a lot with my job, domestic and international – and yes, I did get lost a time or two…or more! Moreso before we had GPS and cell phones.

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:30 am

      When I came across the scene I just couldn’t stop laughing! Getting lost can be a good thing…there is some odd stuff in the world that gets missed unless you get off the beaten track.

  7. Jo Woolf
    January 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    It’s just as bad over here… the problem is that I’m pretty sure I have said some of those things myself! Especially ‘you can’t miss it’!

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Same here Jo! I guess giving or getting directions is a universal language…”it’s right down the road…you can’t miss it!”

  8. January 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I love the photo – looks like someone was, if not lost, at least a little confused. 🙂

    I knew I had become a “real” Mainer when I heard myself giving someone directions like this: “You turn at that gas station that’s on the way to where I used to live…” The funny thing is that they knew exactly where I meant!

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Oh that is too funny Lee! I laughed out loud when I read your comment!!! Is that gas station on the left or the right?

      • January 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm

        Oh, you know the one, you can’t miss it. It’s across from that tattoo parlor that’s an antique shop now. 🙂

  9. January 28, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I love this! Remember to turn right about a mile and a half before you get to a big red barn.

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Glad you got a kick out of it! Love the comment LOL!!! Is the barn after the bridge or before???

  10. January 28, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Asking for directions (or giving them) is always fraught with danger. Love the shot, although I have no idea what they mean…

    • January 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Boy you’re telling me!!! Hope this post brought smiles!

  11. January 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Very funny David and so true!

    • January 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks Vickie, glad you enjoyed this one! It was fun to write…the long-cut/shortcut was told to me in Alabama and the rest are real too! Doesn’t matter where you are…it’s the same language!

  12. January 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I have actually started driving without a gps or a map lately in order to experience some of the situations you talk about. (Un)fortunately I am born with a very good sense of direction, which means I rarely get to ask people for directions… I hope it’s not your handwriting we see in the snow? if it is then, judging by your sense of direction, you should never leave the house without a foolproof gps 😉

    • January 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

      I like you are a born navigator and have a really great sense of direction…even at sea. I have on a occasion gotten turned around so to speak, and have had to ask for help. These responses are real! Oh yeah…that’s not my writing in the snow…either that person has a great sense of humor, or is directionally challenged.

  13. January 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    You’re so right about asking for directions. Sometimes I get more lost than ever after following someone’s instructions!

    I have a hard time reading maps but when push comes to shove, I’ll rely on maps more than a confused local.

    • January 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      *I’ll rely on maps more than I’ll rely on a confused local.

    • January 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Go straight down this road and then go left, left, right left, right, straight…I know exactly what you mean! I am a map person so it’s pretty rare that I don’t know where I am.

  14. January 29, 2012 at 10:25 am

    This is an excellent compilation of unhelpful “help.”

    When people say “You can’t miss it” I always want to answer “You can’t miss it, because you already know where it is, but I can certainly miss it.”

    Steve Schwartzman

  15. January 29, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Thanks Steve, like I said, it’s a whole other language…or thought process! I have certainly heard some doozies…some of which are posted here. Then you have to wonder if they are telling the truth or are sending you on a wild goose chase just to be funny…in their mind. Stupid out of towners…

  16. January 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    David, i laughed out loud reading your anecdotes, they were priceless and tue to some of my experiences. The photo said it well.

  17. January 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks Jane, I have to admit I was laughing as I was writing them mostly because they are all true! Funny thing…I always wondered what I would do with that photo!

  18. January 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Great list, David. An elderly friend who lived WAY out in the country used to say this when someone stopped at his road and said they were lost: “You’re not lost. I know exactly where you are!”

    • January 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Too funny…I’lll have to remember to use that sometime!!!

  19. January 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Love the photo and entertaining post! I have had some very scary experiences being lost, so cell phones and GPS are my best travel buddies! Thankfully, I have learned to not be embarassed when asking for directions multiple times! Excuse me, could you repeat that again but slower? I’m sure after I leave they wonder if I ever made it!

    • January 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Tricia, just a little comic relief for the weekend. Funny…they are all true. I know what you mean by scary…I’ve had some scary ones at night in the city. (Philly)

      • January 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

        I am much more comfortable in the country where we are now!

  20. January 30, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I carry with me my GPS, Cell phone, and tablet. As you can gather, my sense of direction is not so great. I’m so glad I don’t have to go to the gas station to ask anymore. Funny post! Thanks for sharing.

    • January 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Jennifer, and it sounds like you have all the bases covered!!!

  21. January 31, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Ha ha that’s so funny 🙂 I loved: ‘Just down the road a ways, ya can’t miss it…’ 😀 I am hopeless with directions 😀 Especially when I need to give them 😀

  22. February 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Glad this brought on a smile Kristina…it was fun to write. The best part is they are all true!!!

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