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Admittedly, my reputation precedes me. For years, I thought I had no sense of direction. I could get lost amazingly easy, and with a map. But I’m also visual spatial, and directions are supposed to be easy. It took me well after the army to realize that it was the maps and the directions that was messing me up. If I go to a con in Baltimore and try to follow Google or AAA directions, I’ll end up lost in Washington, DC for an hour or two. But if I just have the appropriate exit numbers and transition points, I’ll have no problems whatsoever. A lot of times, I just need to simply go and I’ll head in the right direction.

The maps are the problem, and sometimes it’s really easy to over think what you’re doing and end up messing it up. Which is what happened with the lieutenant.

We were on a land navigation course on Fort Lewis. Pretty much, you go out into the woods with a map and find a certain number of points within a specified time. I was paired up with one of the lieutenants, which was very strange. Usually they didn’t participate in any training; they just came and inspected it.

So he’s got the map, and it’s one of those army terrain ones. It uses lines to show elevation and depressions. Great in Washington State because of all the land shapes, but not so good in Saudi Arabia with all the shifting sands.

The lieutenant orients the map, and we find the first couple points. Then we’re walking and we come to this road. It’s fenced off from the course. There’s a road on the map. The lieutenant orients the map again and announces this isn’t the right road.

I look at the road and in my head I’m thinking that it is it. But he’s the lieutenant and I’m the lower enlisted, so I merrily follow him.

Two hours later …

We finally find our way out of the course. We didn’t find any more of the points, and we were over an hour late. We were one of the last groups out of the course.

Next up will be “What it’s like carrying an M16 rifle” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.