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You Just Gotta… Chill Out…

, , , , , , , , , | Friendly | December 1, 2021

This happened in the mid-2000s while cellphones were generally used for talking and people printed out directions from the Internet before going somewhere. My little sister had moved out to the state of New York for college, and I wanted to surprise her on her birthday by making a road trip up there and popping up at her door.

I made an incredibly boneheaded move of printing out instructions from the website Mapquest rather than buying a road atlas, and I quickly found myself lost in New York City with no idea where I was. I tried asking people for directions, but they would either rudely head me off — police included! — or give me a set of convoluted directions that would get me lost even further.

It began to grow dark and I seriously started to panic to the point where I was sweating gallons while gulping can after can of fruit punch. By then, I had at least a dozen different written directions in my car.

In desperation, I got out of my car and ducked into a tiny convenience store that was eerily lit with yellow lighting, and behind the counter, I saw a man staring vaguely into space. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed over, and I could tell he was definitely stoned.

Me: “Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get out of New York City? I’m trying to get to [City].”

The man was silent for about five seconds.

Man: “You want to get out of New York City… and go to [City]… Where exactly in [City]?”

Me: “[University].”

There was another five-second silence.

Man: “[University]…”

He spoke slowly, with a stoic and emotionless face, without blinking or moving.

Man: “So, you’ll want to leave and take a left… You will find a traffic light… Turn onto [highway]…”

There was yet another five-second silence.

He continued giving these complex directions — with all kinds of traffic lights, highway exits, turn left, turn right, go under the bridge steps included — in this eerily calm voice, pausing two to five seconds in between each one, as I frantically jotted them all down. When he finally finished:

Me: “Thank you so much!”

An awkward silence fell. I started heading for the door.

Man: “You’re welcome.”

I was extremely skeptical about these directions, but I was so desperate to get out of the New York City streets after dark that I would have taken directions from a seven-year-old.

Would you believe me if I told you the directions Mr. Stoner gave were 100% accurate, down to each stop sign, and led me STRAIGHT TO THE MONUMENT SIGN of the university?

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