Driving Dr. Bethy

Dr. Beth in front of Dr. Car by Kalev.So, despite the fact that I’ve lived here for almost nine years, I know surprisingly little about the geography of the Lower Mainland.  This is in part due to my terrible sense of direction1 and in part due to the fact that I rarely left the City of Vancouver (save for occasional jaunts to North Van for hiking and skiing) until I got my new non-Vancouver job.  I could count the number of times that I’d been to Surrey on one hand before I started working there!  And now I’m not only working in Surrey, but my job involves driving to meetings all over the Lower Mainland!  Since I started work three weeks ago, I’ve been to meetings in Surrey, New Westminster, and Abbotsford (twice) and have been to three different hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Peace Arch & Royal Columbian) that I’d never been to before for workshops and such. A few of my coworkers have suggested I invest in a GPS, but I’ve decided that I’m holding out until my cell phone contract with Telus ends (next March) so that I can get an iPhone with its built-in GPS and compass.  Oh iPhone, how I long for you!  In the interim, I’m now BFF with printing directions from Google Maps.

My observations about driving thus far:

  • I never noticed how often they give traffic updates on the radio.  I’m an avid radio listener during the day, but I guess that when I was a bus girl, I just always blocked out the traffic updates.
  • And the traffic updates on the regular stations aren’t sufficient – number 1 on my AM dial is AM730 – All Traffic, All the Time!
  • People slow down when approaching bridges, even when there is no reason to do so.  I mean, sure if there’s a bunch of lanes all trying to squeeze onto a little bridge, you are going to need to slow down, but even when a two lane road goes over a two lane bridge with very little traffic volume, everyone seems to hit their brakes.
  • And speaking of bridges, there are a freaking lot of bridges in the Lower Mainland. I guess it’s the price you have to pay if you want to live near all this water!  Thus far in my work-related journeys I’ve crossed the Oak St. bridge and the Alex Fraser bridge (daily!), the Knight St. bridge, the Pattullo bridge, the Port Mann Bridge2 and the Massey tunnel.
  • Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles.  All. The. Time.  Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles.  All. The. Time.  Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!
  • I’m totally getting a left arm tan, completely with killer watch tan lines3, from driving with my arm resting on my window as I drive.

1And by “terrible” I mean “complete lack of.” Kalev and Tod both tell me that most people can actually sense direction. Like, they can intuitively feel north-south-east-west. This concept is completely foreign to me. And, I’m willing to bet, to Dave, who shares my directional sensing deficiency and relies on his wife, the human GPS, to get where he needs to go.
2Shortly after I crossed the Port Mann, a semi jackknifed on it which tied up traffic for SIX HOURS!  Needelss to say, I took a different route home!
3For the record, that’s killer tan lines from my watch. Not tan lines from my killer watch.

Image credit: Copyright Kalev. All rights reserved. He granted me license to use it for anything I want, in perpetuity, in all forms, real and imagined, forever and ever amen.

Comments |9|

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  • I really, really liked bullet #5. You had very good points and I like the way you write.I really, really liked bullet #5. You had very good points and I like the way you write.


  • I would very quickly get pissed if people kept treating me like an object of curiosity because I bought a good car. Glad to know it doesn’t bug you.

    I am currently facing East. I didn’t have to think about that. Don’t ask me about left and right, however.

    Can I borrow your killer watch? There are some Pride UBC and UBC people I need to take care of. Especially the Unholy Trinity of eTool, Lives-and-breathes, and Drooling Idiot. Death by Beth’s killer watch sounds like a good way of ending them.


  • I can’t tell you which direction is where (except East and West) but if I’ve been somewhere once, I can get you there again (even if driving on different roads). My husband, on the other hand, gets lost driving home sometimes. And they let him steer the ship!!!


  • @Tod – LOL!

    @Kalev – Alas, my watch is no killer. My watch tan lines are, but they seem to be attached to my wrist.

    @Stacia – If you can tell where East & West is, can’t you quickly figure out where North & South are? My dad is like you – he can always find any place he’s ever been, even coming from a totally different route, but my mom is like Wes – of course, they don’t give my mom a Navy ship to steer!


  • Oh my, I can identify – I’m sooooooo geographically challenged! Good thing Hans is in my life ’cause he has an incredible sense of direction!

    When I’m on my own, I rely on “ye olde ‘stop and ask’ method” (my Mom always used to tell me that “God gave you a mouth for a reason – remember to use it” ). I don’t have a GPS either but, all things considered, I don’t think a GPS is all that great for training my brain to find my way from one place to another. Too easy to rely on it and not rely on my built-in GPS (which needs a lot of work but I figure it’s trainable )


  • Reply

  • @June – I figure if I haven’t managed to train my internal GPS in 32 years, it’s probably hopeless!

    @Rachel – Nope. It only opened this morning at 2:15 and it’s totally out of the way, so I’d have to make a special trip to get to it. I probably should go sometime before they start charging the toll!


  • Reply

  • I’m pretty sure those are an Ontario-only speciality. On our recent road trip to the Albion Ferry, Kalev & I ran into three left turn lanes in one place, which we thought was odd, but you had to know where the fuck you were going (that was, left).


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