No Drive Zone

Here in Dunoon, Scotland, a lot of things are “across the water,” which means in Glasgow and the heavily populated areas between the two ferry landings and Glasgow. I don’t drive across the water.

There are several reasons I don’t drive across the water. Coming from the U.S., cars are driven on the wrong side of the road for me here in the UK, and I find roundabouts confusing and somewhat heart-stopping. Then there is my directional challenge, which I include in my soon-to-be-released new cozy mystery, “Signed to Death.” When my sisters and I were in school, we all learned that straight ahead is north, behind is south, east is right, and west is left. What this means for all three of us is that no matter where we go or in what direction we travel—we always face north.

We had to go across the water for a doctor’s appointment this week and instead of going to the main hospital building, we were sent to an adjoining building some distance away. There is no bus service from that building, nor were we able to reach a taxi company, so we asked the nurse for directions on how to get up to the main hospital building so we could catch a bus. I was on crutches. The nurse told us to go to the end of the corridor and take a little jog to the right, and go to the end of that corridor and through the double doors, and through a long glass corridor, and through some more double doors, and then turn right to the elevator. She said to push “3” on the elevator.

We never found the long glass corridor, but we did find the elevator. We got in. The doors shut. There was no “3” on the elevator. We tried to get out again. We couldn’t find a button that would open the doors. We tried every button on the panel—and finally—the doors opened and we skedaddled! We saw an outside path through the double doors next to the elevator. The path looked like it headed toward the main hospital building, so we went outside and followed it. It dead-ended behind the building. We went back to the double doors. They wouldn’t open from outside. So we took the outside steps, me clomping along on my crutches. We finally made it up to the taxi rank. The driver must have thought we were bonkers. We laughed all the way to the ferry.

I get lost, but God doesn’t. He keeps track of everything and everyone. Jesus said to God the Father, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” What a comfort to know that however hopelessly lost I am—God never gets lost—and He will never lose me.

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Directions Are Overrated

Directions are not all they’re cracked up to be. Send me into the country. Tell me to take a left past the first cottonwood tree after the low water crossing, follow the fence to the third gap, turn right and stay straight until I see a crooked fence post, turn left at the old tire and go along side the pond until I see a shed on the hill, then turn right at the sheep pen—and I can find it every time. But send me into a city building with rooms on both sides of the corridor and I need an escort to get out again. On city streets, I have been known to turn into a gas station, fill the tank, then pull out and drive the wrong way for miles before I snap to the mistake.

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Directions like east, west, north, and south are the worst. We learned in school that north is in front of us, south is behind us, east is to the right, and west is to the left. Try using that information to navigate. You are always headed north unless you walk backwards or crab walk to one side or the other.

The Highlands of Scotland may not be the worst place in the world to find destinations—but it’s close. The roads aren’t marked. Alan says directional signs were purposefully removed to confuse German paratroopers in the war. Folks, the war is over.

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Additionally, signs are small; street signs are erected so high up on buildings that they are above eye level; they are faded almost beyond legibility, and road signs are in both Gaelic and English making them too crowded to read. And roundabouts. The map may tell you to take the B999351 at the next roundabout. Four roads spin off in four different directions and not one of them is marked.

When I first arrived here five years ago, Alan and I headed to a memorial service. We never got there, in spite of following lines of cars on a one-lane road in two different directions and stopping to ask two different people out walking their dogs how to get there. It’s a good thing Alan wasn’t preaching—five years later, we still haven’t found the place.

Oh…and the death blow, “You can’t miss it.” Perhaps no one else can miss it. But I can. Trust me.

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Yesterday we embarked on a trip the map said would take 29 minutes. Two hours later, we arrived at our destination. Today, we headed out on a 30-minute trip and made it home again within three hours. The road was not marked, so we took it to the end in both directions. Nor were there any numbers on buildings. Nor did the building we were searching for have a sign. So while Alan and I are both directionally-challenged…sometimes it’s not our fault that we get lost.

We have learned to enjoy the scenery while lost. We may be the first folks, for example, to know that the leaves are already turning.

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I’m so thankful the directions God gives in the Bible are easily understood. Even a directionally-challenged person can understand, “Do not covet, Do not steal, Do not commit adultery…love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Can’t miss it.

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