Part one of a series of unfortunate events
Picture yourself (obviously in a world post-lockdown where this would be allowed) on a road trip to an event of immense importance (I would suggest a wedding, but this is your story too), probably with a crowd larger than 50 people. You and … (insert a name here of someone you would like to share this space and experience with, preferably someone with the same taste in music, because surely music just makes a road trip that much better) have been looking forward to this break-away weekend come event for a while now. In all the excitement you unfortunately forgot to print the route to your final destination, but feel like the GPS on your cell phone should be good enough to get you there safely. But, alas, technology fails you.
Shock & Denial
Poor reception and a battery life that was cut short due to the constant listening of music makes the GPS on the cell phone only get you to this point. What is this point anyway? You and your co-pilot feel like maybe you should have already arrived at the destination about 30 minutes ago, but you have no idea where to go or what to do, where you are. The tension is palpable but not spoken of.
You need to admit to it. You know you don’t want to, but you have to.
You try one more turn here. Let’s see where it takes us. Now just continue for a few more kilometres and persist with the route. Nothing seems to resemble the image of the map you sort-of-kind-of looked at while downing your last bit of coffee and finalising the playlist just before getting into the car.
“Are we lost?”: the co-pilot murmurs, hoping that you would only half hear it, so as to contemplate it as your consciousness intervening.
No! It can’t be. Can it?
We are not lost! It all seemed so straightforward on the map! It was so easy to Google the location and book the place. I think I have been here before? Have I? No, this doesn’t seem right.
We are lost. Yes, we are lost. No point in denying it anymore. We have reached a point of no return and the reality is that we are lost. I have no idea how we got here, where or what “here” even is.
“How did we get here?”, asks the co-pilot half-accusingly and half-amused at the situation. Stupid technology letting us down when we need it most! How useless is this phone? (Battery life does seem to be an issue considering all the other advances in technology.) You start questioning the invention all together and if there can’t be a more competent bunch of minds out there to just develop a solution to this problem. How difficult could this battery business really be if we put a man on the moon?
“We are going to be late.”: another murmur from the passenger seat shooting in your direction with delicately deadly aim. Starting to reconsider your choice of co-pilot all together now, as the shots keep coming. And this is not friendly fire. It hurts because it is true. You are going to be late. You hate being late. Even worse, you are going to be late to that event, for that person! Blood boiling at this point. Sufficient enough for a second or third temperature check at your local Covid-19 screening.
The price of replacing it, is the only thing preventing you from throwing your phone against the (insert appropriate object to your level of violence, but please sustain from choosing your co-pilots head. It is after all frowned upon. And more so when campaigning against gender-based violence or just violence in general. Don’t be violent. Just feel like throwing it, but don’t actually throw it.) Yelling in frustration towards the sky and whoever is close enough to bother to listen. An ear full of rage!
Suddenly turns into an eye full of tears. As a deep sadness befalls you with the realisation that you will be late. You are currently lost. None of the technology that should be aiding you is of any help. You don’t like your co-pilots snarky comments or lack of sense of direction.
Nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide. Well, actually, that’s not true. You just don’t know where to go. Or you know where to go, just not how to go there. This makes the other eye feel like you are in the process of cutting onions while making lasagne for one. With your vision blurred, there is a moment of clarity. But you do not like this sudden clarity. As it is the realisation that not only will you be late but you will probably not be in any of the photos and miss out on some, if not all, of the memories and experiences shared by those who actually bothered to plan ahead and be on time.
Why me? Why does this always happen to me? You briefly catastrophise, so as to enhance the experience of sadness now dwelling up in your eyes. This line of questioning is fruitless, yet you persist with it. After all, what is the point to all of this anyway?
Overwhelmed by sadness, you develop a craving for the sweet comfort of chocolate dancing all over your taste buds. Oh, and another cup of coffee to go with it sounds like exactly the escape you need. But the car is empty. This was supposed to be a short trip. Shorter than this!
Tracing your route back to where you think it all went wrong and driven by this new found craving, you remember seeing a filling station one-stop-shop combination a couple of kilometres ago. The calculations are putting the hamster wheels into overdrive.
What if we (so many options, so many thoughts. Here the thoughts should be limited to the current event and the resolution of it. Or if you like, thoughts pertaining to the avoidance of the event in the first place would also be allowed.) declined the invitation? What if I just printed out the map to the destination? What if I made use of a different network service provider? Or bought this other brand of smartphone?
You start channelling the hamsters into a more productive direction. What if we try to go back to where that middle of nowhere oasis is? Then from there I can satisfy this craving while we charge our phones, contact the person/people at the event and ask for directions.
Ah! The sweet taste of caffeine and cocoa. And the added sense of accomplishment that a problem has been solved. Yes, we were lost. Now we have some idea of where we are heading and where it went wrong. Local knowledge of what route works best and even alternatives, should we make a wrong turn, again. There is something comforting about the feel of printed paper pointing you in the right direction.
Yes, we will still be late. That won’t change. We can’t change it, but we have adapted to the struggles that we have experienced on this road trip. The others know that we are on our way. This too will now be part of the memories, of the experience, of the stories told and shared amongst friends.
*Part two to follow – an interpretive dance of words about the experience of loss*