When in need, a friend beats technology.

Today, I’m expanding my writing world by attending a session of the New York State Writers Institute to hear Cokie Roberts, illustrious journalist and broadcaster, speak on Writing about Women’s History. The only women’s history I plan to write about is my own, but I’m happy for the opportunity to connect with other writers.

If it weren’t for a friend of mine who’s going with me, I would not be attending.

Why? Because I’d get lost.

The venue is on the SUNY Uptown Campus, a maze of look-alike buildings where I once lost my car and had to trudge through two feet (truly!) of snow to find it at 9 PM. This was before the days of GPS.

With my husband Michael’s patience and a detailed map he drew, I found my way to the correct building for a lecture. When the lecture was over, I got turned around in the building and asked someone where the parking lot was.

I knew I was in trouble when he asked, “Which one?”

The one with lots of cars, I wanted to respond.

I suppose someday I should challenge myself to figure out that campus once and for all. But not today. Today, I’ll rely on a friend who agreed to go with me.

Do you know the campus at all? I texted her, I’m a total doofus at finding my way around there.

Yes, I went to school there, she replied

Problem solved. Now I can look forward to the lecture without the anxiety of getting lost.

This is personal growth for me. In the past, I was so ashamed of being “directionally challenged,” that I often didn’t admit it, or ask for help (other than from Michael).

It was so easy to be real. What has taken me so long?


On that note, below is my story from last year: “When I get lost and technology fails me.” As you’ll see, when in need, even the most sophisticated technology doesn’t always help. Sometimes you really need a friend.

You know those lab rats that run through mazes? Well, if I ever got reincarnated as one of them, I’d be in deep rat doo-doo. I couldn’t find my out of a paper bag if it came with neon EXIT signs. And all the technology in the world often doesn’t help.

Recently when I got horribly lost, my adult son told me it was because I was using Apple maps on my phone rather than Goggle maps.

“Well, it says maps,” I said, showing him the app. “How do I know if it’s Apple or Google?”

He took my phone, swiped to the next screen and showed me the big “G,” under which it says “Google maps.”

OK, mister-smarty-pants, I thought.

So now I use the big G, even though I have built-in navigation in my car. When I bought my car, I thought it was imperative to have this feature, given my, y’know, limitations. But “Navi” mispronounces street names, and if I don’t listen to her, she purposefully gets me more lost. I don’t like Navi.

Last week, I had to attend a wake, so I put the address in G and we headed out. After a few blocks, however, I realized that G wasn’t talking to me. At every red light, I fished out my glasses, poked at him and tried to make him talk.

What, you’re holding out for beer and cigarettes?

Finally, I pulled over into a parking lot. Still not talking, G was now stuck on rerouting me.  Apparently he didn’t know where I was.

Hello??  It’s yourjob to know where I am. You’re supposed to be smarter than Apple, remember? 

I decided to give the address to Navi. It was her chance to repair our relationship. Then I realized I didn’t havethe address. G had it, but at that point he was spinning his little wheels like a lost lab rat. I searched Navi’s points of interest, but I guess she doesn’t think people get lost going to wakes because no funeral homes came up.

Then I realized I could ask Siri.

“Ha,” I told G and Navi outloud, “I don’t need you anyway.”

But it was a conspiracy. Siri told me I was no longer a hotspot and couldn’t get internet access.

What?? Don’t tell meI’m no longer hot! 

So there I was, in a parking lot in the freezing February rain, beaten into submission by a trio of virtual pranksters.

Looking up, I pleaded silently, God, I’m really trying to do a good thing here. But God must not have been in a hotspot either, because He didn’t answer.

Reluctantly, I called my husband at work for directions. He’s used to the routine, and lucky for me, picked up on the first ring.

Maybe God wasin a hotspot after all.

Coming back from the funeral home, I didn’t bother hitting “home” on Navi or G, as all I had to do was make one left turn and I would know where I was. I made a phone call using my Bluetooth as I pulled away. I got my friend’s voicemail, and here’s what she heard:

“Hi Peggy.  I’m just leaving the funeral home, so you can call me back any … Oh shit, am I going the wrong way? Peggy, hold on a sec.”

 (Mumbling) What the hell street is this?

“Peggy, I think I’m lost.”

(Under my breath) Oh my god, I can’t believe …

“Peggy, I’ll have to call you back.”

So much for conspiracy theories. It’s all just me.


  • An emerging writer in upstate, NY, Karen DeBonis tells her story on her website, in publications like the NY Times, (a Tiny Love Story), in her “Become Emboldened” projects, and elsewhere. "Portrait of a People-Pleaser and the Son Who Paid the Price", Karen’s transformational memoir about a woman’s quest for authenticity and the courage to speak her truth, is currently available for representation.

No Comments

  1. Sheba Olenik on April 24, 2018 at 6:09 PM

    Funny…but I’m sure it wasn’t at the time.

  2. Karen DeBonis on April 25, 2018 at 1:08 AM

    LOL – No, it takes me awhile to cool down first.

  3. Pat Rampolla on April 25, 2018 at 9:24 PM

    Karen your conversation with the technology voices is hysterical. Your lack of a sense of direction is because you are so intuitive. You see the big picture and ignore the details , like your dad. Yesterday we went to a new doctor and he got lost getting out of the parking lot. Thank goodness we have a compass in the car that he could consult to point us west, which of course is toward the ocean and home,

  4. Karen DeBonis on April 25, 2018 at 10:20 PM

    Well, we know Dad is a genius, so at least I know that my poor sense of direction doesn’t mean I’m stupid, although I certainly feel that way. And I get lost in parking lots, too! (I even get lost inside buildings!!)

  5. Kim Kozak on April 26, 2018 at 1:58 AM

    I love your stories..

  6. Karen DeBonis on April 26, 2018 at 11:22 AM

    I so appreciate that, Kim!! Thanks for taking the time to tell me 🙂

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