Panic In The Minivan

The D-Train #9

We all have our limitations, and one thing I am very, very bad at is understanding how to get from one place to another. Like, literally.

dumb my bad GIF by Robert Shiple

I still use my GPS in my very small town where I have lived for more than five years. I honestly could not explain to you how to get to very common landmarks that I travel to all the time. Want to know how to get to the grocery store that is literally three blocks from my house? Uh, drive down to the end of the street and turn left. Wait, or is it right? No, it’s left, I’m sure. One thing that I do now is I ask my eight-year old child which way to turn. He’s usually correct. I wish I knew what is wrong with my brain and why I can’t remember simple directions, but there you have it. We can’t all be perfect.


im perfect black and white GIF

Because I accept that I am directionally stupid, I never drive anywhere without GPS. But this weekend I drove my son and three of his friends to this play place that’s in another town, about a half an hour away. (Yes, I had four eight-year old boys in my car. Wondering why Jesus isn’t knocking on my door to give me my sainthood medal??). Anyway, after they were done playing I loaded everyone up in my giant mom-mobile, and suddenly I couldn’t get the maps app to work on my phone. I couldn’t get anything to work on my phone. The kids were being crazy and all I could think was the phone is dead, I have no idea how to get home from here, it’s dark out, and all is lost. We’re just going to have to sleep in the car on the side of the road until someone comes and rescues us. I’m the dumbest human and the worst mom and because I can’t pay attention to where I’m driving, I have ruined the lives of all these children who will never forget the woman who made them sleep in a car on the side of the road because she didn’t know how to drive places without the stupid GPS app on her phone.

It never occurred to me that I must have somehow turned off my cellular data. I just went into straight panic mode and that was it. My brain shut down.

Because I was panicking, I lost my ability to be logical. But what wound up happening was I realized I had to get these kids home. Their parents were waiting for them. I couldn’t just pull over on the side of the road and wait to be rescued. So, I looked around for signs. I told all of the kids to be silent for a minute while I pulled over in a McDonalds parking lot (the source of all inspiration), and thought really hard about how we had gotten there and how we might get home. I got back on the road. I followed my instincts and decided to take a turn that seemed right. And incredibly, within a few minutes I was on the way home. I didn’t need the GPS at all.

When I got home I was tired. I ate some food and I went to sleep. I forgot about the fact that my phone was messed up. 

Then this morning I had to drive to another town about forty-five minutes away. I guess I started the GPS app while I was in my house and connected to WIFI, because the GPS worked all the way there. Then, when it was time to come home, I suddenly couldn’t get directions. Again, in a panic, I couldn’t think straight about what was happening with my phone. All I could think was that it was broken and that I had no idea how to get home, and when would I learn to navigate places on my own because surely I would die out here having no idea how to do basic human functions such as driving back the exact same route I had just come, but in reverse.

rita ora GIF by 2017 MTV Video Music Awards

Listen, I’m super dumb and it’s really embarrassing that I am not, like, an Apple employee or whatever and I couldn’t figure out that my cellular data was turned off. But when I’m panicking, I can’t think straight. My brain goes automatically to the worst case scenario and then it’s hard for me to reel it back in. So, for the second time, what I did was I drove home without any directions. I NEVER do this. I turn on the map to go to work – a place I drive to every single day of my life – because I’m afraid there will be construction or an accident or something creating a detour, and I need the safety net of the map up just in case. And you know what? I got home just fine. It turns out, I knew the way much better than I thought I did. And when I turned off the car, and the panic was over, it dawned on me that my phone was also just fine. I just needed to click the little button and everything was magically fixed. (Apple, call me! I’m totally available to work in your fancy store).

I have another court date this week. Court is horrible and invasive and exhausting. You stand in a room and you’re not allowed to talk, and there are a whole lot of people who don’t know a damned thing about you discussing intimate details about your life and making decisions about your future. It’s a torturous, horrific process. For days before a court date I always start to panic. I can’t think straight. I have trouble concentrating on the smallest of tasks (this newsletter included – sorry!). When I’m actually in court the feeling is so overwhelming, it’s like I’m this wild, caged bird. I can’t think straight. I can’t find the logical solution. 

But what else can I do? I have to hope that if I just keep moving, the answers will come to me. I mean, I can’t stay there, and the kids are counting on me to find my way home. Ya know?

If this was a movie, this song would roll during the final credits.


Amy Blair