Wayfinding for Idiots

When it comes to roads and maps and routes… I’m an idiot. I am absolutely reliant on Google Maps, to the point where I’ve named the Google Maps voice Susan. I call her that because I need something to cuss out when I do the wrong thing and Susan is a good name to cuss with. So, if you ever see someone on campus squinting at her phone while mumbling something along the lines of “ooohhh come on Susan, you said it was right, I went right why do you want me to go back?”  or “Get your shit together, Susan! Yards? I don’t do yards, Susan. You know that, Susan. Where’s my metric system Susan?” That’s me.

I’ve had ‘road training’ when I was studying in Amsterdam. Apparently, they don’t like to just drop someone with a visual impairment in a crazy city filled with cyclists from all sides. Got a few good tips from that so I must admit I’ve been managing well. By now, I have also learned that I’m not the only road-idiot in Dundee, so I thought I’d share my idiot-proof tips with you:

  1. Google Maps is a darling, but you must do what she says. I know, I know. Actually doing what Susan says you should do is hard, because she’s a computer and you’re a human, so you know better. But most of the time… you kinda don’t.
  2. When you start a Google Maps route, and it does that annoying ‘go North’ thing and you’re wondering where the hell North is…? Just walk a bit to one side and you’ll see soon enough. Or you know, do what they did in Ye Olde Days and look up at the sky. The sun rises in the east, moves through the upper south bit, and goes down in the west. I’m sure you can figure it out.
  3. Is it a route you have to take more often? Landmarking is your way to go. It’s like a little scavenger hunt where you make picture descriptions for yourself. Basically, you take a picture at certain spots and write what to do there, or just write specific things down without the pictures. Don’t use the red car, the cute girl with purple hair or the blue condom wrapper on the street though. That stuff moves, and you’ll be lost again. Use ‘The purple building’ or ‘the tennis courts’ or ‘the seventh maple tree’.
  4. Make friends who are good at roads and follow them. Keep them as a friend by getting them coffee or food or anything of the sort that will allow you to become their new shadow.
  5. Channel your inner Hansel and Gretel. Do you have a lovely, beaded bracelet? A stunningly intricate necklace? Not anymore! Snap that baby in half and drop those beads like a trail.
  6. If all else fail, it’s time to get over your social anxiety and ask another person on the street. This is an extreme option, I realize that. And you should only do this when you see no other way! I salute those who are brave enough to do such things… It is not for the weak of heart.

Anyway, next time you need to find out how to get somewhere or you’re lost just think: Susan, sky, landmarks, friends, bracelet, strangers. If you’re still getting lost then… Good luck, you’re beyond saving.

Written by:

Hello, my name is Sophie, I am a postgraduate in Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology from The Netherlands. I did my undergrad in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Education, I do archery, a lot of different crafts and I thoroughly love sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book.

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