Going the extra mile

“I chose the road less traveled. Now if I can just figure out where I am.”

Anonymous

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Roads less traveled have always been my preferred routes.

Dodge the interstates. Enjoy the scenic route and the small towns. Unfortunately, there was no scenic route to where I was going last week. There just wasn’t any way to get there from here without battling NASCAR wannabes running wide open, five freeway lanes wide. Also known as any given day driving in Dallas.

I have a good sense of direction. There was a day when a road atlas was all the direction I needed. You can still find one in my car, but the current edition is not as well-worn as previous issues. Electronic devices have replaced them with ease and convenience for finding a route to almost any place on earth — most of the time. There are still places where even the current array of electronic devices is not foolproof, however. I found one of them a couple of years ago.

“I’m at an intersection somewhere in the middle of Southeastern Kentucky,” I said aloud. I also had directions that night. Not good ones, as it turned out. “It’s late, it’s dark, and the only lights in any direction are from my vehicle. I have no cell phone signal. And GPS took me in circles, then admitted it was lost. I hear banjos playing. Please tell me you can help me.”

My pitiful plea was answered with the push of a button. “OnStar, how may I help you.” A voice in the wilderness. “Don’t worry. We’ll have you back to civilization soon. Give me just a moment to pinpoint your location,” she said.

I heard a tone of humor in her voice. Was she laughing at me?

“I’ve found you,” she chuckled. Then, giving me the names of the two intersecting rural roads where I sat alone in prayer, she asked, “Where would you like to go.”

Alone again in silence after furnishing the name and address of the lodge that was eluding me, I looked out into the pitch-black darkness. Glowing green eyes dotting the dark woods had joined the banjo music. I decided against sharing that with the OnStar agent.

“I’ve located your destination and have the correct coordinates.” She was back. “The information you gave for the lodge does not match what’s in our system. It’s close but we have it under a different 911 address. Would you like to go there now?”

“Ma’am,” I said meekly. “There is nothing in the world I would rather do at this very moment.”

“Hold on while I download the directions to your vehicle,” she said. “Listen to your radio for turn-by-turn directions as you travel.” I listened closely to see if she was still laughing.

While I waited for Miss OnStar to work her magic, I reviewed the previous two hours in my mind. How was I to know the GPS address on the brochure was not the same one stored in GPS computers? How was I to know that instead of telling me, “The address you gave me for that name does not match my records,” GPS would instead find delight in directing me in circles through sparsely populated Kentucky mountain regions in the dark of night.

Maybe GPS has a sense of humor, too.

A couple of missed turns later with OnStar nudging me back on course, I finally arrived. Three hours behind schedule. A sigh of relief came with those words, “You have reached your destination.”

A similar sense of relief awaited me at the end of my trip to Dallas last week, where my plea for help with big city traffic was to a power a little higher than guidance satellites. That prayer was answered as well. It may have been the phone app that directed me to my destination, but I’m confident that signal was getting a large dose of divine direction.

By whatever means, I’ve usually always made it to where I’m going, even if I am the last one to arrive. And people are glad to see me when I get there. I know that because they say things like, “I thought you’d never make it.”

“You know me,” I tell them. “I always go the extra mile. Whether I want to or not.”

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, The Fort Stockton Pioneer, and The Monitor in Naples.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and ‘A Story Worth Telling’ with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.

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