Future shock

I was part of a group that was supposed to set up a retreat in the Poconos, rural Pennsylvania.

At the resort, we asked the caretaker for the address of the place to send to the rest of the group. He smiled, warm in his dungarees and said, “We don’t have an address, but what I can give you is this.”
Then he did something I’ve been waiting for my whole life.

He rattled off a series of numbers, the longitude and latitude points for the place.

I was blown away. I remember thinking: “This is the future. Asking for someone’s address and getting GPS coordinates that pinpoint the exact location, this is it.”
No more boring, uncertain wordy addresses. I am never going back to the old ways.

Two years later in Lagos, I ask someone to give me details for a meeting and she sends me something that looks like this:

“Red gate,
Mayflower Estate,
Opposite Oando Filling Station (formerly Mobil)
After old Aremu bus stop
Off Tiwadire Johnson Road
Off Salami Oremeji (formerly Kingsway)
Call Susan 0899258259…. ”

I’m sitting there with two pages of this not-quite directions. I call her back, “Huh, what is this? What am I supposed to do with it? Wh-what about numbers?”

I wanted the address of the place, not a short story on its history. Old Aremu, not new? Formerly, formerly, off, off? No house number?

The part that really got me was that last line, “Call Susan.” So even after all the directions, I would not be expected to find the place myself, I still have to phone a friend?
I can only make it ye far into my mission before I must summon the spirit of Susan to lead me the rest of the way?

When I call, I imagine Susan will appear, shimmering, and say, “Take this ring and this sword, you will need them to defeat the gryphon and cross the sea of glass. Godspeed.”

I would like to tell you I got there easily, I didn’t.

Susan didn’t pick up her phone when I called, so I did the next logical thing. I got down at the bus stop and asked a bike man to take me to Mayflower Estate.
There are two Mayflower estates in the same area. One is boldly labelled, the other is a secret enclave known only to a select few.

The bike man took me to the wrong one, the one with the big visible sign.
I had to walk 40 minutes back to the right place.



11 thoughts on “Future shock

  1. I cld give d addy of my house out, but except a person has a gps, I’d still ve to give the ‘road beside tantalizers, drive all the way down, follow d road right at the admiralty house….bla bla bla, call me.’ The beauty of naija. We’re so intelligent we can only digest d complicated 🙂

    • I’m always worried that the person will give me an extra peace of information that I don’t need which will ruin my chances of finding the place. Like “turn after the school” and I’ve figured out everything else but I can’t see the school.
      I end up evaluating the directions in multiple ways, “what if this line is wrong? What if that is misspelled? What if she meant Sweet Sensations not Tantalizers? Maybe church not school? What if I came from the wrong direction so all the lefts should be rights and vice versa?” Terrible over-thinking.

  2. Lol directions are STRUGGLE! in Lagos. That system couldn’t work in Nigeria for what I fear may be decades. Many streets in the less commercial areas aren’t even on Google maps, never mind latitude and longitude.

    Besides, it would require everyone to have some sort of a device in which they can input coordinates. That isn’t going to happen any time soon either.

    It would be so cool though

    • You’re right, but our current method of “look for someone who knows the way” is too fickle.
      I wonder what they did before mobile phones. Imagine that? You head to someone’s house, can’t call them, they can’t call you, you don’t even know if they are around, you wander for hours, go back home and write them a letter.

      • LOL and then Nigerian Postal Service delivers that two weeks after you send it. Gosh! Life must’ve moved at a glacial pace back in the day…

  3. I was typing a response to this and remembered there was something more interesting……. ENJOY (that is if you haven’t seen it already).

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