Snowball Effect

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that after nearly two years, I still use GPS to get most places in Omaha. Someone (who shall remain anonymous) remarked, early in my relocation, that at first she thought I was trying to be precious by always using GPS, until she realized I really needed it.

It’s true – I moved from Omaha at the age of 18, at which point I only knew the routes to and from school, youth orchestra, and church from memory. If I had to get somewhere else, I caught a ride, or would write down detailed instructions. I never registered North Omaha, South Omaha, West Omaha….or how Downtown Omaha fit into the overall layout of the city.

I didn’t have a car for most of my undergrad days, and I count it a small miracle that I was not lost forever in Chicago during grad school.

I kept up this ignorance in Minnesota, where I drove all over the place for gigs. Fortunately for me, Minnesotans (especially my friend, Angela) were great at giving directions, including landmark Super Americas. If I had to figure it out myself, I used city maps and wrote detailed turn-by-turn instructions. Eventually, I came to understand the basic layout of Minneapolis, whose streets are alphabetical – except when they aren’t. This helped me learn how to get places during rush hour without braving the interstate system. But it took me at least 10 years to understand the whole north/south aspect of Minneapolis. I never really learned the suburbs.

When I bought my first computer, and was hooked up to the Interwebs, I would mapquest everything, and print it out. I would save all these maps for future use, not knowing I would eventually get all this ON MY PHONE. For me, once I had phone GPS, I never looked back. Some luddites still use maps, or get directions from a receptionist. What a waste of time! Just get the address (or the name of the business), and Siri will get you there, choosing the fastest route every time. She knows about accidents and other delays, so even if I know the way, I’ll consult her when time is of the essence.

Which brings me to Omaha. For me, Maple and Blondo are North/South running streets, and Minnesota is to my right (not the back of my head!!). Twice this week, I was called in to sub with the Omaha Symphony at the last minute. It meant stopping my crafting project – this adorable thing –


and heading to rehearsal in bad weather. As usual, I consulted Siri, because I had to go to the Orpheum Theatre, a venue I’ve not been in since my senior year of high school, as best I can recall.

Siri did not realize it was snowing, and took me on this crazy circuitous route, landing me on Keystone Drive, with instructions to turn right on Military Road. Here is what Keystone Drive looked like the night AFTER that storm.


I want you to imagine it covered in slippery snow. The photo doesn’t do the angle justice.

It’s hard to tell just how steep it is, but when I told my sister about it, she said it was the road Dad used to take us “roller coasting” on. When I drove through there again the next night, I recalled a high school event. Our high school band at Roncalli collaborated with Marian High School’s band, since both bands (especially ours) were small. We would have to get to those rehearsals at Marian on our own. I, along with Charlet Nalty (French horn) and Therese Bucchino (clarinet) caught a ride with Marty something and another boy from band. Marty had a truck, and we girls were stuck in the truck bed.

Marty decided it would be awesome to take us on a wild ride. He found dirt roads where he gunned the engine, causing us to hang on for dear life to whatever piece of metal we could find. He ended the joy ride with an accelerated jaunt down the same road real estate I encountered the other night. Not only were we late for the rehearsal, we were covered in dirt from head to toe. Our band director, Miss Carol Lenz, took one look at me after I slinked into my seat (I sat in the front row, because flute) and carried on with the rehearsal. We never faced any repercussions.

There’s a speed bump at the bottom of this hill now. I didn’t take it the first night, opting to find another route. But the second night I flew down it, only to have to slam on the brakes for the speed bump. Another back road spoiled for safety. The longer I live here, the better I’ll get at navigating the city. But I’m in no hurry as long as Siri’s directions keep snowballing into remembrance.

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