Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mistake on MacArthur Boulevard

We interrupt consideration of weighty issues for a little story with a moral.

Some days ago I happened to be walking along MacArthur Blvd. in northwest Washington, D.C. (not something I often have occasion to do, but anyway...). On upper MacArthur Blvd. (Chain Bridge Road/Arizona Ave. area, for those of you familiar with D.C.), I was stopped by a driver who wanted to know how to get to the intersection of MacArthur Blvd. and Cathedral Avenue (specifically, he was looking for the Palisades Community Church).

What I should have said to him was "sorry, I don't know how you get there." I didn't say that, however, because of the following thought that doubtless went through some part of my mind: "I was born in Washington, D.C. (and not yesterday either). I have lived in it or in its environs for most of my life. How can I possibly not know where MacArthur and Cathedral, two major streets in northwest D.C., intersect?"

So what I said (in relevant part) was: "I don't remember exactly where MacArthur and Cathedral intersect, but it's obviously [sic] that way" -- and I pointed "down" MacArthur, toward downtown (more specifically, toward Reservoir Road and Georgetown). Then I continued on my merry way walking "up" MacArthur toward where my car was parked. In a very short block or two, I walked past -- yes, you guessed it -- the intersection of MacArthur and Cathedral. True, it wasn't the main part of Cathedral, it was probably even a disconnected piece of Cathedral, but nonetheless it was the intersection of MacArthur and Cathedral, and there was even a sign for the Palisades Church, the driver's intended destination.

At that point, however, it was clearly too late to run back and tell him I'd been wrong.

Moral: If someone asks you for directions which you think you should know but don't, just say: "I'm sorry, I really don't have the slightest idea."

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