Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Change of direction

Something has really stood out to me recently: The way folks give directions here.

On the East Coast, where there are precious few mountains to serve as a reference, everything is about lefts and rights. The only time I consistently used cardinal directions was in giving an address because D.C., is built in quadrants: NW, SW, NE, SE. Same addresses can be found in several quadrants, so specifying is usually necessary.

In the West, however, people say things like, "Go east down such-and-such street, then go north on this-and-that street and you should see it on the west side of the road."

It makes sense to me, but it took a bit to get readjusted to this way of direction giving. Correctly positioning myself on map to get a route in my head just took a moment longer.

I'm pretty used to it now and find myself using a blend of the two. Regardless, I don't think I'll get lost either way.


Kelly said...

When we moved to Missouri, I would get screwed up about directions, because it was harder to distinguish between N-E-S-W, what with all the hills, hollars, rivers, and pesky trees getting in the way. ;)

One of the many things I miss about the west: the ease of directions, because you always have the mountains as your guide. :)

Kelly said...

Here, I'm more likely to use landmarks + the "turn right/left" routine.

I guess here, the Missouri river can serve as a reference for the north side of town.

(Just had to tack that on.)

MOM said...

That's true, Kelly. The river is a good guide, but it curves all over the place. In the West, the mountains helped you know where you were at all times. D.C. is definitely confusing to me, with all the roundabouts.