Trippin' Sans GPS

by Kathleen Koprowski


I wasn’t surprised when my plane landed at DFW airport in a blinding fog, so thick that I couldn’t even see across the street as I waited curbside for the rental car shuttle. I had just arrived in Texas to begin work on an assignment that I wasn’t sure would be a slam dunk with a new client that I wasn’t sure would be a good fit. It seemed somehow fitting that the weather would chime in with its opinion about this experiment:  outlook unclear. 

I agreed with the forecast but had chosen to trust my instincts, which were telling me to step outside my comfort zone where life was safe and predictable and…well, boring, really. New territory beckoned, and I was willing to be surprised. And fogged in. 

Undaunted by the heavy mist, I congratulated myself for the keen intuitive sense that had prompted me to request a "Mr. NeverLost" when making my Hertz reservation two weeks earlier - something I had never before done in years of renting cars. Truth be told, it was also due to my spotty track record on Fort Worth's spaghetti freeways and one-way streets and the Texan tendency to use landmarks to give directions, but I wanted to chalk this one up to ESP, just for fun.  

Anyway, I had no worries: "If you've ever been lost or worried about finding your way to an unfamiliar destination, let the remarkable Hertz NeverLost® system be your guide,” suggested the Hertz website. A little fog wouldn’t faze me, not with their GPS!  Seventeen miles to my hotel should take twenty-five minutes, tops. I could be tucked in bed by midnight. 

My celebratory jig was cut short upon arrival at the Rental Car Center, where I discovered my name was not on the board and there was no car waiting curbside (grrr). And stretched before me at the kiosk in the parking lot was a long line of disgruntled travelers shivering in the murky dampness whose cars were also MIA (GRRrrr).  Another sign of a bumpy ride ahead?  Instincts disagreed:  perhaps it’s a perfect opportunity to channel my Sufi teacher and practice breathing mantras. And patience. 

Stop growling, try `Ya Sabur' (one of the 99 Names of Allah, translated:  ‘God, who is in a limitless state of patience’). I practiced this mantra for all of us waiting and for the harried agents behind the counter.  The line was moving rather quickly, at least…

And then, on this foggy night in the Hertz parking lot, God spoke to me.

"Do you still need a navigation system?" She asked, in the form of Martha, Customer Service Representative – At Your Service.

"Oh yes, please!" I got lost EVERY time I visited Texas, even on clear days.

"Well, we don't have any."  She smiled while delivering the news, as if it were an inside joke.

I had to laugh – out loud - at this point, at the ridiculousness of this exchange (so, really - why ask?), and then it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps we were no longer talking about car accessories.

Of course they didn't have any. There was no way to program this ride into a computer so that some sexy Italian voice could politely direct me to my destination.  I had rolled the dice in a new direction and was on my own, fog and all.  It was time to trust the instincts that drew me to this new project to see me through it, with or without an electronic crutch. The fog shifted in agreement, from ominous and foreboding to mysterious and inviting.

“Well, I guess I must not need it,” I replied, eager to strike out and find my way.

"Here are the keys," God said then, with a nod of recognition - and a hint of a wink?– still smiling as She sent me out into the night in a brand new convertible red Mustang (sans GPS). I earned an upgrade from a Kia for my bravery and good humor.

Fifty-three minutes later (oh yes, it really took twenty-five minutes to recover from a wrong turn inside the airport grounds, GRRR!) I managed to find my way to Home Sweet Marriott using my own personal FrequentlyLost® navigation system, which somehow always seems to keep me right on track. 

 

 

Kathleen Koprowski is on sabbatical from a business consulting career to pursue a lifelong dream to turn words into groceries.  

  

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