x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A fine partner in traffic

Driving on the road, we can't see eye to eye. But it's a quirk unique to my husband that I secretly don't mind.

Mr T calls me his "GPS".

The stereotype of women having no sense of direction does not apply to me; I've inherited my father's genes in that department. My dad can arrive in a country he has never been to before, rent a car and take off, confident and in control. Within an hour, he will be completely aware of his surroundings, and easily able to get from point A to point B effortlessly (as well as point C, D, E and so on).

I, likewise, see the world in the same way: as a series of maps in my head, accessible and easy to read. Whether I am searching for a specific shop at a mall I have been to only once, or driving to a new location using my awareness of my surroundings, common sense and directions to find my way, I am more often right than wrong in my guesses. Or, to be accurate, I am never wrong, as I often announce to my husband.

Mr T, unfortunately, does not have the uncanny ability to figure out exactly where he is, where he has to go and the best route to get there - one that considers the probability of traffic, the amount of traffic lights that might be in the way, and the correlation of distance versus time in the formula. And I say "unfortunately" because I am unable to understand this, accept it, or let it go.

The two of us now sound like a broken record in the car. "What are you doing, why are you going that way?" I usually shriek at him, a millisecond too late for him to change direction.

"What do you mean, this is the right way," he insists, his knuckles white on the steering wheel.

"It is absolutely NOT, you should have turned left, oh my GOD, unbelievable," melodramatic and seemingly fed up, I always collapse back into my seat and then slap my forehead.

"Well, why didn't you say something? You're supposed to tell me WHICH WAY," he says through clenched jaw. And then, my ridiculous answer:

"But it's so OBVIOUS, don't you KNOW that's the way?"

Apparently, no he doesn't, and I just can't seem to fathom it. We cannot see eye to eye on this: I find it baffling that he doesn't realise which direction the Corniche and the sea is in relation to how he's driving. I find it infuriating that he asks me "now what?" on a road that continues straight: there is no right or left: why in the world is he ASKING? Pre-emptive, he says.

What confuses me even more is that when he is alone, he rarely ever gets lost. But if I'm parked in the passenger seat next to him, he makes no effort to stay alert, handing over the reins to his "GPS", who is often unaware she needs to provide directions to a place we have been to countless times together. And cue the screaming match.

But while I can't understand this discrepancy between us, I secretly don't mind it as much as I pretend to. It's a quirk unique to my husband, a tiny flaw to a guy who sometimes seems too perfect, too capable. It's his thing, this inability to figure out if he's supposed to turn left, turn right, or continue straight. And I'm there to show him the way, albeit with some drama.

 

hkhalaf@thenational.ae