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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

The top 5 reasons I’m asked for directions

September 10th, 2008 by Raj

It seems that regardless of city, in fact regardless of country, I am seemingly one of the most geographically aware persons on the planet. Just this Sunday on a quick run to the Eaton Centre to buy a pair of jeans, not more than ten minutes walk to and from my home, I was approached for directions not once, not twice, but trois times. I’m not particularly bothered by it these days, in fact I’m kind of used to it. Nine times out of ten I have no idea where the street/landmark/car park/train station/monument they’re after is but if they’re particularly nice about it I can use my iPhone to look it up for them.

After this Sunday’s particularly high direction-asking-count I started to think why it is that I’m approached. It’s not like I have “local tour guide” tattooed across my forehead in UV ink (well not that I’m aware of; hang on a minute I’m going to check…. …. … nope, I don’t), so why is it that I, instead of the hundreds of people around me is asked. Behold; “The top 5 reasons I’m asked for directions (in foreign countries)”

1. I walk like I know where I’m going
I’m not a dawdler. When I’m walking somewhere (regardless of if I know where “where” is) I walk with purpose; with “vigor” if you will. While some people may like to soak up the atmosphere of unfamiliar territory I prefer to do that off to the side, stopped, and out of the way of other pedestrians. This is probably because it annoys the hell out of me when tourists do it in my home town.

2. My racially independent aesthetics
Taking a look at me it would be difficult for most people to pick exactly what my origins are. Black hair, half olive skin, the lines of physical racial stereotypes become kind of blurred. People generally look at me like I’m retarded when an Aussie accent emerges and I tell them I have no idea where or what they’re talking about. A perfect example would be my time in Paris where at first I’d be polite and throw a “Pardon, je ne comprends pas” at them, but it was much more fun to watch their jaws drop with a “nah mate” reply.

3. I’m the least intimidating individual in the vicinity
I wouldn’t think downtown Toronto or Seattle are places that would be particularly scary during the day but as with all cities there are some unsavory folk about. In my opinion they are in the minority in comparison to your average ham sandwich beating the pavement going about their daily grind. Perhaps its because I’m not wearing a tie, maybe they’re the scary ones and all the guys with empty Starbuck cups rattling for change are the normal peeps?

4. 90% of the time I’m wearing headphones
Now this one confuses me a little. I would have thought the fact that you’re wearing “environmental-sensory-depravation-tools” (AKA headphones) would actual detract people from approaching you. For me I listen to music wherever I am in the world. Occasionally I’ll tune into the soul of a new city, getting a feel for it’s subtle overtures until people start looking at me funny and wonder why I’m conducting what is to them an invisible symphony atop a sewer grate of a major intersection. Maybe it looks like I’m listening to an audio tour of my current locale? If I had a Lonely Planet book in my hands maybe.

5. I’m just a nice, helpful, smiley guy and people can sense that
Now anyone that knows me will have either ruptured their bladder because they’re in public and wetting themselves would not be appropriate, although now you should get to a hospital pretty quick, ruptured bladder and all; or you’ve now noticed that the warm feeling of pee down your inside leg is starting to cool and you need to change. I know what I look like walking, trust me people have told me. I’m a petulant bastard that wants to get where he’s going and that about sums it all up. If I’m the happiest looking person on the street than we’re living in a very sad world and I’ll need to take up a religion and find out who or what to pray to for our souls. Who’s that alien dude the scientists guys worship? I think I’ll go watch Battlefield Earth now and find out.