The Lost Bethany Chronicles, Part 2


So, as I mentioned in my last post, I have a little bit of an ongoing problem with getting lost.

Round two with Trimet involved, again, trying to find my way to my sister’s house. It seems like a simple task– walk a half mile west, board the bus. Get off at a certain stop, walk a block south and board another bus. Get off and cross the street. Simple, right?

Well, not when you’re in a city where you have no sense of direction.

On the journey in question, I successfully boarded the correct bus, and even got off at the correct place to make my transfer. However, as soon as I stepped off the bus I had a horrible realization.

Walk south one block, the direction said. I looked up at the buildings and spun slowly in a circle. Not only did I have no idea which way south was, but I had no idea which way was which at all. I took a deep breath and started walking, glaring irately at my phone GPS which had failed me yet again. I walked about four blocks in one direction, turned right and walked another five to six blocks, then turned right again and headed back the direction I’d come. All the while my annoying GPS declared in large letters “SEARCHING FOR GPS.” (I later figured out that I had gone west, north, and east– every direction but the one  I needed to.)

Not helpful.

I walked by the courthouse. I walked by PSU. I walked by a lot full of food carts. Finally, my phone beeped– a notification that the GPS had finally been located. Eagerly, I retrieved the device in question from my pocket, and discovered I was only a block away from my destination. At a power-walk pace I headed that way.  I spotted my stop and approached it just as the bus I needed pulled away. It sucked.

However, I was in (relative) luck– since I was downtown, this stop was serviced every fifteen minutes, so I didn’t have long to wait.

As I stood, I noticed a rather short young man standing on the corner, approaching strangers with a binder in hand. It seemed he was trying to get people to listen to a particular shpiel, and after I observed him being rudely rebuffed several times, I decided that if he were to approach me, I would be nice and listen to him even if I didn’t care about whatever he was promoting.

Well, he did approach me.

First he complemented my state of plaid flannel shirt– “Bringing it back,” he said, awkwardly touching my arm. I laughed uncomfortably as he launched into his speech, talking about poverty, privileges (like being literate) and how relatively wealthy even those below the poverty line  are in this country.

I half-listened. I already knew that  I was going to say no to whatever he wanted me to sign up for, until he finally got around to the point that he was gathering people to sign up for sponsor children. For a moment I considered it. I think that sponsoring a kid is a great thing to do. I changed my mind when he revealed the kicker; a sign-up sheet which had spaces for credit card information and not a whole lot else. Mentally, I backpedaled, desperately thinking of an excuse.

“Well,” I said, “I don’t think I’m going to sign up right now.”

“Oh, well, what’s holding you back?” Zack asked. (His name was Zack. If you read this, Zack, your pitch was actually very good. I’m just squeamish about credit card information.)

Desperately, I played the poverty card. “I’m poor,” I said, “I kind of haven’t eaten yet today.”

Zack started his addendum speech about how easy it is to cut little things out of your expenses like eating out or coffee (hah.)

Just as I was starting to feel cornered, my salvation came in the form of the bus. “Look, Zack,” I said, stepping away, “I’ll see if I can work it into my budget, and if I can I’ll go to your website to sign up.”

The thing is, I checked out the website and he was legitimate. I just really hate being put on the spot. (Children.org if you’re curious.)

Anyway.

Today I went round three with Trimet, this time trying to find my way home from my sister’s house. I eventually had success, but I swear that the mobile trip planner has led me astray more than my own lack of sense of direction. Thrice within twenty minutes I looked up routes home based on my current GPS location whilst downtown, and thrice the mobile trip planner told me different routes.

Finally, I went with my instinct, and it was (shockingly) better than the trip planner.

Downtown Portland breaks my heart, though. In front of the Arlene Shnitzer concert hall, an old lady in a motorized wheelchair solicited passersby, asking only for a dollar. I gave her an orange instead.

Then I passed by at least four other people asking for money. I only responded to the ones who spoke directly to me, but seriously, I wanted to feed all of them a nutritious feast– even though one homeless man asked me if I had a more ripe orange to give him. Oh well. The homelessness problem breaks my freakin’ heart. I can’t help but imagine what if it was me in their shoes.

Despite getting lost and other distractions, I made it home successfully.

Trimet, I win.

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    • Mom
    • February 27th, 2012

    I’m proud of you for not signing up with Zack. Conmen use the names of legimitate organizations all the time to acquire credit card numbers.

    Picturing you in the middle of downtown Portland looking up at the tall buildings, spinning in a circle trying to get your bearings made me feel icky in my tummy :-D I probably would have sat down and cried.

    It’s an heartrending juxtaposition – you lost in the big city over against the homeless people who are also lost and have given up getting their bearings.

    I wish you’d had another orange…….

  1. December 31st, 2012

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