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Driver Beware

November 6, 2013 | by Ira Bodenheim

God has given me a gift: The world’s worst sense of direction.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to brag, I’m just too talented to engage in such petty behavior. But gifted is gifted and I just happen to have a gift not too many others can make a claim to. I am blessed with an absolutely perfect, foolproof sense of direction. I can parachute into any location in the world and head instinctively in the wrong direction, 100% of the time. This includes landing on my own block. I could split up and go in all five cardinal directions of the compass at the same time and I’d be wrong.

My sense of indirection is so impeccable, they used me as a consultant for the television series, “Lost in Space.” So if you’re ever lost in the jungle with me and I go in one direction, head the other way and you’re sure to be rescued. I on the other hand will be … Even if by pure error I head in the right direction, the East and West poles, well known for their practical jokes, would switch places just to mix me up.

I can parachute into any location and head in the wrong direction, 100% of the time.

Because of my unique skill, there are scores of drivers somewhere out there orbiting their cars aimlessly around the streets of the world, like those pieces of space trash orbiting the earth for eternity. These drivers are totally and hopelessly lost and it is their own fault. Who told them to ask for directions in the first place, and who in his right mind told them to ask someone directionally dyslexic?

Why do drivers ask me for directions? I certainly don't know. Ask the fools if you can find them, but if they ask, I tell. Probably the same gene that prevents most men from asking for directions prevents them from saying “I don’t know” when asked. It's not that I give wrong directions on purpose, well almost never. It's just that most roads seem familiar since I’ve been lost on most of them at one time or another.

My directions are usually correct for a good 90% of the way. The last few turns mix me up a bit sometimes, which could prove to be troublesome on a highway with no exit for ten miles. Oh, and I also have a slight problem with North on cloudy nights. I never get mixed up with right and left though; is that my right or yours? And I'm pretty good with East and West as long as they’re not fooling around; is that my east or yours? But, if those drivers don't want to get lost, "Careat Emptor; Let the Driver Beware."

Had these drivers been real men, they would have eventually found their way without asking, despite their wives' wishes to the contrary. It might have taken some time. Perhaps some drivers would have had to miss a child's wedding or a birthday or two, but at least their self-confidence and personal honor would have remained intact, unlike those two fellows way back in the 15th century.

Sometime in the 1400’s, two Samurai Warriors, Hari and Kari, were merrily making their way home after a busy day of killing, tax collecting and all around mayhem. They were so engrossed in telling Samurai jokes that they became hopelessly lost. Unfortunately for them, they asked for directions and were later forced to “draw their own conclusions” to save their families from disgrace. This sacrifice for the sake of personal honor became known as "Hari-Kari."

Traumatized from asking once, my victims will never ask for directions again, stopping only for gasoline and a quick bite to eat. If they could, they would do mid-road refueling from gasoline tankers while going 65 mph and have their meals delivered via smart bombs right through their windows. They drive with their noses pressed to the windshield, hoping to spot a familiar landmark before anyone else in the car does, muttering, “I got it. I know where I am now, now I know. Here we go—did New York City always have a volcano?” The wife will always mutter, "Sure you can find your way, Harry, sure you can. You just need to find your brains first."

“Did New York City always have a volcano?”

To help solve the "driver asking me for directions problem," scientists have developed a revolutionary new device called the BPS or Bodenheim Positioning System based on the latest GPS technology. At the push of a button, a driver anywhere in the world can instantly detect my exact location. The device will then beep and say, "Alert! Alert! Do not ask that man for directions! Do not ask that man for directions!”

Of course the pleasure of getting lost need not be limited to drivers. Many pedestrians also enjoy the benefits of my directions such as walking a mile in the wrong direction in the rain or going up a hill in the hot afternoon sun, instead of down. So until a hand-held model of the BPS is available, "Pedestrianat Emptor.”

Unfortunately, such a talent comes with a very high price. Sadly, I am completely locked out of many critical professions. For example, I will never be able to serve my country as an astronaut.

“Ground control to spacecraft Venus One. Do you read me?!”

“Roger?! This is Commander Bodenheim and I read you loud and clear?!”

“Commander. As the first human being to set foot on Venus, what do you see? Is it the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen, the most terrifying? The entire world is watching, sir.”

“Roger?! There’s something in the distance I’m trying to make out. It almost looks like a sign.”

“A sign? Like from God?”

“No, like from a billboard. Just one second, it’s getting a bit clearer. I got it. WOW! Amazing! I don’t believe it!”

“What, commander, what?”

“It says, ‘Welcome to Mars. Go Green.’ Do you read me ground control? Hello? Anybody there? Heloooooooo! Okay guys, this isn’t funny. So I’m the first earthling to land on Mars. Mars is a planet too. Hello? Are you there Roger?”

And my life-long dream of becoming a surgeon has been cut to pieces.

“Code red, code red! Dr. Bodenheim please report to the operating room immediately!”

“Excuse me nurse, wasn’t the operating room here yesterday?”

“No sir, the cafeteria was always here.”

“I see.”

“Attention Dr. Bodenheim. Never mind.”

As a fellow human being, my heart goes out to those poor lost souls condemned to living out their lives on the wide-open road. Or is it on a narrow country lane? As the one responsible for getting them lost in the first place, I sure hope they never hear about the BPS. If they do, they could find me and I’d become an astronaut after all as they launch me into outer space. But as they say, "Let the Giverat of Bad Directionsat Emptor.”

I must run now.

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