The Negress has lived in enough places and visited enough countries to know that you can get there from here, the cab driver usually has no idea how to do that and you will be overcharged. She once was on an airport shuttle in Northern California where the driver stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. The passengers contemplated leaving him there since we all knew where we wanted to go. Now that many of us have GPS on our phones (Google Maps, Crapple Maps, etc.), the need for directions may not be as great as it once was. But if there’s a power failure or your phone dies, you need these native skills. Also, assuming you drive, the Negress has lived in enough metropolitan areas to have some tips to share.
So, here we go. It might help if you know what a Jersey jughandle turn is or the difference between the Circle and the Junction, but those are not necessary.
1. The Negress has been forced to learn compass directions now that she lives in Chicago. Luckily, there is usually a compass set in stone in the sidewalk in front of a lot of “L” stations. This has not stopped her from walking 10 blocks away from where she is going when she finally breaks down and takes out her phone.
2. If the lake is on your left, you are probably in Michigan.
3. All directions in New Jersey involve at least one Dunkin Donuts and a set of railroad tracks. Jughandle turns, one of the most festive aspects of New Jersey driving, can be featured as well.
4. Texas directions are usually steeped in some sort of cowboy nostalgia. Example; “Go down the road a piece and then turn left where the cattle guard used to be.” This is not helpful but it is colorful. You drive around long enough and, if you’re in the Hill Country, you may not find your destination, but you may find excellent barbecue.
5. In Boston and environs, there are no directions; just the fervent hope that you will survive the trip.
6. If you have nothing but time, the Negress recommends driving from Richmond, Va. to Washington DC via Route 301. If you drink adult beverages, there’s a great liquor store in Clinton that has spared many a Virginian from the horrors of state-store system.(Behave responsibly please. The Negress does not wish to lead you astray and she doesn’t want you to kill anyone)
7.If you drive in Manhattan, drive like a cabbie. You can cut off the black-car drivers since they own their cars and they won’t hit you. Thecabbies do not own their cabs but you can move if you follow right behind one. Just hope he’s going where you’re going.
8. The Negress has listened to visitors to her native Washington DC complain about the difficulty of navigating traffic circle so she often gives directions where at least two circles are a part of the journey. Shes likes to think of this as the automotive equivalent of double dutch.
9. When the Negress first arrived in Chicago, she found traffic reports incomprehensible. Who wanted to go from Lake Cook to the Junction? Why was it “45 Lake Cook to the Junction?” Imagine the sense of mastery she felt when driving downtown from a horrible job she worked at near O’Hare when the light finally dawned. This was the time it took to drive on I-94 to where it joins I-90. It only takes 45 minutes right after 6 a.m.
10.If you are driving in Los Angeles, you’ll be able to tackle Rome and Mexico City next. Using surface streets can make LA quite manageable. Also, since the Negress learned to drive in Boston and cut her teeth on the Houston freeways (where traffic actually moves), she loves LA. For driving anyway.
Forgot this song mentions New York and Chicago.