The Map

A story in a single image – THE MAP


First, let me make it clear that I am American, not English.  I don’t live in England (although have visited it perhaps more often than any other place.)  At the time, I didn’t even attempt to drive on the roads in England.  After all, they drive on the wrong side, don’t they?

We were visiting my friend’s in-laws, somewhere near Camborne, Cornwall.  My friends had been married about 2 years at the time.  After breakfast, the three of us decided to take a road trip to explore the area.  Our destination was someplace on the Channel coast, as the guidebook suggested several places of interest.  Her in-law’s had moved to Cornwall only earlier that year, my friends were both from the East Midland area of England, and I have only been there once.  By train. Not car. Getting the picture?

So we set out, my friend’s hubby driving, she is next to him, and  I am in the back seat (such as it is, in those English cars!)  Man hands my friend the map and asks  ‘will you navigate, honey?’  First mistake.

Now, I love her – she’s my best friend (since 1969, thank you very much), a lovely person, and tons of fun.  She can’t read a map.  So-o-o-o, she takes the map, and manages to find our starting point on the map – somewheres in the middle of the Cornish peninsula.  Her hubby, in the meantime, is still driving east on this dinky country one lane road, high stone walls on either side. We get to a ‘main’ road (main by virtue of the fact that there are no walls and there are two lanes) and now hubby asks which way?

Mind you, the minutes prior to this have been filled with a teeny bit of tension as my friend struggles with the map, and trying to see where we are. Okay, let’s say it got downright acrimonious! So, that question became BIG mistake number 2!

At this point my friend grabs the map, throws it at me in the back seat, and says, ‘HERE, you read the map!’  I have never seen a British road map before, so a lot of the symbols are quite foreign to my mind, but, while they are still arguing up front, I at least manage to find the road we are on. After finding out what town we are aiming for, I think I see a possible route thereto!  So I say, ‘go straight, there should be an intersection with Route such-and-such, make a left when you get there.’

I now discover some of the source of my friend’s annoyance.  Hubby says, ‘how do you know we want to go left?  I think we should go right.’

Deep breath. ‘It’s about 9 am.  The sun is in front of us.  That means we are going east.  We need to go north. Turn left.’


We get to intersection.  Except there is no intersection.  The other road passes over the one we are on.  (As I have stated, I don’t know the symbols on AA road maps – apparently, this ‘intersection’ is really an overpass. Lesson learned.)

‘Now what?’

‘Turn left.  We still need to head north, this road goes north, we’ll figure it out.’

Bottom line?  We arrive at our destination about 10 minutes later, we have a fun day, on the way back my friend asks, ‘Would you sit up front and navigate from now on?  I can’t read maps.”  I tell her fine, but she can sit up front on the way home, since I’m pretty sure hubby can find his way back home without the map!


8 thoughts on “The Map

  1. I love this! How many of us have been in similar situations with either oneself or another assigned to navigate when a map is a foreign language to them! lol I’m even a good map reader but with a snappy driver can become a blithering idiot. Thank you for the great story. And it is nice to meet you. ~Meghan from and in Writing 101 with you.

  2. I spend a few weeks of each year in the US – your roads fill me with the same kind of horror that our twisty, stone wall lined roads inspired in you! I hate navigating by map in any part of the world and always have to twist it so the line on the map is going the way we are travelling.

    • Well, I finally learned how to drive fairly well in England, although when dad was still alive and came with me, I would have to tell him ‘just go to sleep on the motorway and let me drive!’ He didn’t like the M1 at all, especially at 80mph!

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