Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I don’t think I’ve written it up on this blog.

In November of 1994 when I moved into a condo in the Old City section of Philadelphia, my parents came to help me with the move, as was their wont. Toward the end of the afternoon, when they were ready to leave, they needed directions to get back to the Schuylkill Expressway. Since I didn’t normally drive a car, and this was a new section of the city for me, we asked the condo sales agent for help.

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The Benjamin Franklin BridgeThe Benjamin Franklin Bridge

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge

I tried to listen as he described the way to them, as I knew I’d be going that way myself in a few weeks. The next time I spoke to them, they said they had no problem finding their way onto the expressway.

So when the time came to rent a car to visit my parents, I thought I remembered the directions well enough so that I didn’t need a refresher, even though they sounded a bit complicated. After all, I did know my way around the city a bit better than my parents did.

I set out and made a left turn onto 3rd Street, then another left onto Vine, then I was sure he said, now wait, what did he say? Go five blocks to 8th Street? Or eight block to 5th Street? Make another left? Right? And suddenly I found myself on the Ben Franklin Bridge heading across the river towards Camden!

And once you’re on the bridge, there’s no turning back. I went to Camden. Which is located in the mysterious land of New Jersey.

I turned off the main road as quickly as I could and then searched for a way to get back to the bridge. All told the little unwanted detour had cost me perhaps 20 to 30 minutes, which would definitely make me later than the time I had told them to expect me.

When I finally did get to their house, I explained the delay, and there was a rather sheepish expression on my mother’s face. She turned to my father and asked, “Should I tell him?”

He nodded and laughed.

“We weren’t going to say anything,” she continued, “but we ended up in Camden too. We drove around for awhile until we found a policewoman to ask directions.”

Needless to say, when I got back to Philadelphia, I returned to the scene and made sure I knew exactly how to get to the expressway from my new home. It turned out to be quite simple. The sales agent’s mistake had been to mention way too many landmarks along the way, thus over-complicating the directions.

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