Recalculating A Life

Today’s guest post comes from Steve Grooms.

Like Dorothy who was whisked away from drab Kansas to exotic Oz, I daily confront the complications of living in a new and strange land. I keep learning that things I thought were a normal part of the world were actually regional characteristics. For example, Midwest roads and streets are laid out in an orderly grid, crossing each other at 90-degree angles in predictable intervals. As a Flatlander, I took that grid structure for granted. I was amused but also reassured by Minneapolis’s alphabetical street names (Colfax, Dupont, Emerson, Fremont, Girard, Holmes).

That is not the way it is here. Where I now live, land is either Steep Stuff or Valleys. Virtually all development, including roads and streets, is concentrated in the valleys. But because the roads tend to be short and forced into certain angles by the lay of the land, roads and streets cross each other at all kinds of wild angles. What seem to be major roads peter out or wander into oblivion.
This is another way of saying that streets and roads in the West interact in all sorts of crazy ways. And it is another way of saying that it is a challenge to navigate here, especially if you are a Flatland-bred senior citizen.

I would not be capable of driving to my medical clinics or car repair shops or grocery stores or my daughter’s home were it not for the new woman in my life. I am utterly dependent on her to function in this city. Without her help, I would be a confused prisoner of my apartment, incapable of venturing past the gates of this gated community.

This new woman is the voice of my GPS unit. If I have to pick up prescription refills, I type in the address of the pharmacy in my GPS. Then this woman talks me through the trip to that place, turn by turn. She tells me how far I have to go before the next turn, and she counts down the distances with precise and predictable instructions.

I don’t know much about her. She sounds exceptionally sure of herself, and she is perfectly consistent. She isn’t bossy, although she does seem a wee bit put off when I fail to follow her instructions. When she gives me directions but I am impudent enough to do something different, her voice alters slightly and she mutters that she is “recalculating.” Soon she has a new set of directions based on my defiance of her original plan. I would hate to play poker with her, for she knows her own mind totally and betrays little emotion.

I’ve learned how to interpret her instructions. For example, when she tells me I’m two-tenths of a mile from the next turn, I understand that the turn is about two city blocks away. I can’t overstate my dependence on this woman. If someone stole the GPS from my Outback, I couldn’t leave my apartment for days until I got it (or her) replaced.

Who do you trust?

72 thoughts on “Recalculating A Life”

        1. Welcome, Mihai. Feel free to join the fray anytime. If you don’t find a daily post on the Trail Baboon, go to the Baboondocks (found in the left margin), that’s where we hang out when not on the trail.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m delighted that you have such a reliable new woman in your life, Steve, as well as this fun story. I recall her voice and especially her scolding you if you took a different route. A GPS would make me anxious because I’d screw it up for sure. I even screw up Mapquest. I write the exact directions down AND draw a detailed map and still get lost. Old dog; no new tricks for me!

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    1. Thanks. Actually, the old woman in my life is about to make a two-week visit. That is, my erstwife is staying with my daughter to do some serious babysitting. This will be interesting. The whole family will be together for the first time in about a decade.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my! I wish I could be a silent and unseen observer. What fascinating dynamics, with Liam adding some pretty interesting viewpoints to the whole thing.

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  2. So glad to hear you aren’t housebound Steve, but beware your new lady friend.

    My payroll workplace is notoriously not accessible via GPS, having an address on a newly constructed bunch of streets off West 7th in St Paul she knows nothing about. I was told recently that yet another trusting soul had been directed to look for the definitely in St Paul location in Medota Heights. The lost soul finally gave up in frustration, pulled over, whipped out the cell phone and consulted the less-sure-but-more-local-girl.

    At the end of the call, a helpful passerby asked if the driver was trying to get to my workplace. Seems that corner is where enough trusting souls end up to constitute a local phenomenon.

    My answer to today’s question? I only trust those willing to utter those 3 little words so many of us find so hard to say,”I don’t know”.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When he was mayor of St Paul, George Latimer emerged from a bar one night to find that his car had been stolen off the street. Then later in the next day, he found it parked on a side street. Latimer went before the cameras to report that he had been high the night before, which led him to think he was the victim of a crime. After that, I knew I could trust anything he said.

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  3. Good morning. Good to hear about you and your new friend, Steve.

    There are some people that I trust. I am a somewhat trusting person who would like to trust everyone. However, I have lived long enough to know that many people can not be completely trusted and some who are very untrustworthy.

    I got to known a family in Southern Minnesota that I think is very trustworthy. They come from a rural Irish Catholic tradition. From what I have seen of them, I am sure they would always try to help you and never do anything to harm you. I think it is the way they were raised. Their father was very kind and highly respected and their mother, who I never met, is said to have been the same way if not more so.

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  4. I find it’s the doorknobs who you trust because you can tell in you’re heart that they are earnest only to discover they don’t know what they are talking about. well intentioned idiots. I trust my doctor my banker my lawyer and my dogs . other than that I am hesitant

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    1. I agree, tim, that earnest doorknobs can’t always be trusted. The people I know, who I said I trusted, are not doorknobs. They are very earnest. However, they are also very intelligent and thoughtful.

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  5. I am a trusting soul, so I likely trust more people than is prudent. Maybe it goes along with being an optimist – I believe that the world is always capable of good and so are people. (My dog, however wonderful, is not to be trusted – he will steal your donut in a heartbeat…)

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      1. PJ–My last two dogs would not steal food. Indeed, they had fierce ethics about that. I could have left hot dogs on a low table, and neither of them would have fallen from grace. Both were English setters, if that means anything.

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        1. Steve, I was talking about Anna’s dog specifically, and she obviously knows her beagle’s appetite for treats. I know some dogs are so well trained that they won’t touch things they aren’t supposed to. I don’t believe ethics or breed have anything to do with it.

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        2. When you live with a hound, you live with a creature governed by stubbornness and a very strong sense of smell. This does not, generally, lead to good manners (no matter how much you train them) when good smelling things to eat are nearby…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t mind feeble old people like me and Steve using Siri and GPS voices to guide us through the dark wilderness but it makes me sad that young people whose brains still work properly and are still in the event of developmental stages have learned to rely on GPS and Siri rather than taking lifes map reading course to heart.
    One of my favorite parts of travel used to be pulling out the old rand McNally Monster Rd., Atlas and figuring out how to chart a course in which gray roads in which scenic roads in which cool cities you’d be going by and which ones you chose to pass on but had to think about today you choose route want to route two based on the fact that one takes three hours and 22 minutes and one takes three hours and 27 minutes it sad that brains are transitioning to auto respond rather than thought.
    I love trusting my brain
    No other entity on earth deserves it less but works harder to gain my trust in my brain. I always give it one more chance

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I’m like Anna – it’s easier to say who I don’t trust, and this morning I don’t trust 2-year-olds. They’re fickle, can turn from a sweet cuddler into a screaming machine.

    Who to trust is dogs. I’ve never had one of my own, but I watch other people’s dogs, and sometimes think I want some of that. I’ve had cats, but cats are more fickle – someone said it like this: Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a number and get back to you.

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        1. I feel I must speak up on behalf of cats here. I have found that if you merit a cat’s trust, they are very reliable and will do what you ask (as long as it is somrthing they want to do anyway).

          Mine will reliably come running if I stand at the back door and sing my original composition, Suppertime for Kitties, yum, yum, yum, yum yum.

          As long as I faithfully provide the promised food, they will probably keep showing up.

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        2. mig, I didn’t mean in any way to denigrate cats; they are absolutely wonderful companions. But, it my experience, they are less inclined to indulge their owners’ every wish, and I’m fine with that. Our Martha, a muted tortie, is a fabulous cat, and we love her dearly. But she’ll let you know if this is not a good time to cuddle her. When she wants attention, she’ll let you know that too.

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  8. I saw the reevaluating a life heading and thought we could give credit to Dale for being so on the news and commenting on Robin Williams no offense to Steve but Robin Williams death has my attention this morning he was such a wonderful spirit and such a wonderful soul that his inability to reevaluate his life and challenge with depression is devastating.
    I felt this way when Jim Henson died what a terrible loss from the heart so big that give pleasure to so many but with Robin Williams to tragedy is the pain that he felt was acknowledged and recognized but still out of reach and inconsolable
    How many people must die of depression every year that we don’t care about because they’re not Robin Williams but they go through the same pain and have the same difficulty reevaluating their lives .
    I am hopeful that one day soon there’ll be a little voice on my smart phone to help me with directions on how to make it through life as well as how to make it across town Dr. Siri is the app that I wish for.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I saw today’s headline, my thoughts immediately flew to Robin Williams as well, tim. Sad news that. It also made me think of Clyde. Wonder how he’s doing? Has anyone had any contact with him?

      Having experienced first hand how badly Siri the navigator can screw up, I’m not sure that Dr. Siri is a good idea.

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    2. One of Robin Williams’ movies I have not heard mentioned is The World According to Garp, which I dearly loved. Thoughout the movie, he is asked what TS stands for, and it keeps changing, until the final one, when his reply is, “Terribly Sad”.

      From experience, I would say depression is suffered disproportionately by artists and especially performers. The day we can test for a depressive flare like we can test for high blood sugar will be a major breakthrough.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. One of Robin Williams’ movies I have not heard mentioned is The World According to Garp, which I dearly loved. Thoughout the movie, he is asked what TS stands for, and it keeps changing, until the final one, when his reply is, “Terribly Sad”.

      From experience, I would say depression is suffered disproportionately by artists and especially performers. The day we can test for a depressive flare like we can test for high blood sugar will be a major breakthrough.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have learned that it is important to be very distrustful of people who have a personality disorder. This is a kind of mental illness. People with this disorder are, at first, very friendly. They will make a big effort to win your trust. In the end, they can’t be trusted at all. They always end up treating you badly. Fortunately, they usually can’t contain their tendency to behave badly for very long and you quickly find out that you should stay away from them. Unfortunately, when you first meet a person with a personality disorder, you might not be able tell that they can’t be trusted.

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    1. You seem to be describing borderline personality disorder, Jim. It’s so pronounced and almost untreatable (it’s for life) that I won’t knowingly even take on a BPD client. If therapist doesn’t want to take this risk, how could someone without this training?? In my opinion, BPD is in a category of all its own. Other personality disorders are perhaps at times annoying, but not dangerous! By the way, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction was a borderline.

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        1. On a more positive spin, they can make great ER nurses and doctors since they can work really well in crises and emergencies.

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        2. I’ve very rarely miss this, but have since learned that if I feel crazy in front of a client, chances are that she’s crazy. Taking on a client with BPD means that they’re very engaing, charming and idolizing, Then, you say one thing they don’t like, they’ll start calling suicidal in the middle of the night and threaten to sue you.

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  10. Morning all. Thanks Steve for a topic close to my heart this past week as the Teenager gave me a GPS for my birthday. Guess she has been in the car with me too many times when I’ve gotten turned around. Unfortunately I do not yet fully trust my gal… I named her Thomasina.. I’m visiting a friend’s cabin in Wisconsin this weekend and I’ve promised myself I’ll put the mapblast directions in the trunk (just in case) and try to follow her directions all the way.

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  11. About trusting people…………I draw a clear distinction between being simply naive and real trust. As the queen of naive, I rarely suspect anyone of malintent and, until/unless he/she does something really hurtful, I’m like a stupid puppy dog. Even so, a hard lesson usually doesn’t teach me to be more careful. I have never had a filter for potentially harmful people. For me, it’s trust now, until/unless someone does something to lose it.

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  12. Just realized I didn’t actually answer the question… oops. I’m fairly cynical when the world at large is concerned, but the better I know someone, the more likely I am to trust. I’d start a list here, but it would go on too long!

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  13. Nice job, Steve. Hope your family reunion turns out OK.

    I’m a pretty trusting person. By that I mean I generally take people at their word, i.e. I don’t spend time second guessing or looking for ulterior motives for what they’re telling me until I’ve caught them in being deceitful. Once that happens, chances are I’ll spend very little time with them. Trust can be a fragile thing, once violated it’s a difficult thing to rebuild.

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    1. On one of my visits to my friends in Bellingham, I baked a heavy loaf of Danish multigrain rye bread. I left it to cool on a rack on their low center island in the kitchen. Didn’t give it a thought that their yellow lab, Toby, might find that a temptation. Such a sweet, gentle old dog, nah, it just didn’t occur to me. Well, I was wrong. He’d devoured half of it before I realized what he was up to.

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      1. Only half? The first Irish Setter that I had on my own ate many things, but never by halves. Popcorn string right off the tree, loaf of sesame peanut bread, 22 Ukrainian eggs (& the boxes they were wrapped in), bath soaps (also in a box), entire bag of Hershey chocolate kisses. She definitely had a “queen of all I survey” thing going on.

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        1. Had I not caught him in time he would no doubt have devoured the whole thing. That first Irish Setter of yours had an impressive appetite. How did she fare after the bath soap? With regard to the Hershey kisses I’m assuming she also ate the foil wrapping; should have resulted in some shiny poop.

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        2. Nothing ever bothered this dog’s stomach. By the time I came home to find the kisses eaten, it was too late to do anything except keep my eye on her. No symptoms whatsoever… in fact, I started to second guess how much chocolate had been in the bag until the next day with the blinged-up remains started showing up in the yard!

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        3. Our dog once cleaned out half of a large jar of vaseline. She would have devoured the entire jar, but it was only half full.

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  14. This morning I found our terrier doing her best to tug the bag of dog treats out of the side pocket of our overnight bag. The overnight bag was up on a chair, so she had to stand on her back legs to remove the treats. We had failed to unpack them from our weekend trip. She was only helping us unpack, I guess.

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  15. Nice piece of writing, Steve.

    I trust the dog to eat anything she can get her mouth on. I trust my cat to sleep with me most nights, at least when it’s not too hot. I trust the twins to make me smile (well, most days).

    As far as people…I tend to trust those who don’t pretend to be perfect. For some reason, I seem to know a lot of people who project themselves as being nearly perfect in every way, never admitting to weaknesses or struggles. It was so refreshing to find this blog where people actually admit to things like being afraid of heights, or procrastinating on doing important things, or other (deeper) flaws. I found out the hard way that most people who pretend to be flawless and demand it of others are definitely not to be trusted.

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    1. I still remember being at the vet clinic and noticing a puppy with a big wrapping around his mid-section. I asked his owner what had happened. He said the pup had eaten a disposible diaper and that it blew up in his gut. Another time, my daugther’s big Rottweiler, Tank, was running around my backyare squeeling. I went out and say something black cord exiting his anus. I stepped on whatever it way so he might run away and it’d exit his bowels. Later, I learned that this was a Van Halen cassette tape.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Well, I trust Baboons, of course, to be chatty, to have a vast knowledge of music and trivia, and to share my grief over the loss of LGMS. Although the blog soothes the pain!

    Thanks for the progress report, Steve.

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