Memories and Musings: Getting lost is a special skill

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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By Gene Gallelli

Almost everyone was born with a sense of direction. Not me! I was born with a broken compass in my head. Sadly, a few of my friends were also in the “broken compass” line at birth.

Most people can thank cartographers – map makers with their precise multi-colored lines and squiggles – for getting most of us from where we are to where we want to be. But a map, if you can find one, relies on understanding what north, south, east and west and all the areas in between mean. To me and a few friends, those four compass directions are nope, sorry, eek and wrong.

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Science has confirmed that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; that’s sometimes helpful early in the morning or in the evening. However, if you start traveling at noon when the sun is directly overhead, straight-up isn’t a wise choice. Icarus made that mistake and the wax holding his wings melted (it’s a myth).

Once upon a time – I like the sound of that – I was scheduled to do an effective schools workshop for a high school faculty (that shall remain nameless). I made the mistake of entering a McDonald’s one way and leaving from another.

I got totally lost and was totally embarrassed having to call the principal to tell him I couldn’t make it. I’ll never forget his terse response: “Don’t you know how to read a map?!” Years later, when he became a traveling salesman, karma paid a visit; but that’s another story.

Most days I plan to go somewhere in particular for a specific reason. Backing out of the driveway, I can only go left or right based on which is the shortest to my destination. I usually go the wrong way. But, hey, going the longer way often introduced me to many new and interesting people, places and things.

Come to think of it, my bride had compass problems, but only in a large restaurant. When searching for the exit, Pat could always find the kitchen. Our two daughters liked to tease their mom about their day at Disneyland where they spent more time looking for the car than they did on the rides.

Oh well, to paraphrase what the Cheshire cat said to Alice when she was lost in Wonderland: “If you don’t care where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.