In an era of satellite navigation, no one under the age of 50 really ever uses maps anymore and many of us wouldn’t even know how to, should the need arise.
The other day, while I was at a local orienteering event with the kids at the National Trust garden close to where we live, I looked around and was amused by the gender stereotypical, almost cartoon-like, behaviours of some of the mums and dads.
One particular mum was clearly flustered and couldn’t seem to determine which way around the map should be held, before her irritated husband snatched the map off her and, without even looking at it, confidently led his family away in the wrong direction.
If you’re wondering how I fared, I took one look at the task sheet and then gave it one of the event organisers, telling her that I only brought the kids to feed the ducks and didn’t have enough time, otherwise I would have loved to join in. However, the event did remind me of an incident that took place in my youth.
Back in the day, I used to have enviable career prospects and worked in the highbrow establishment that is Primark. During the wintery evenings, when I would walk home in the dark, for a few weeks I kept coming across the same aging gentleman who would be sitting in his car, and would ask me to look at his map and give him directions to local points of interest that were close by.
Given that I could never even determine where we were on the map, I would always proceed by giving verbal directions whilst waving my arms and pointing at landmarks that couldn’t actually be seen from where we were standing. (FYI, I have a comically bad sense of direction. One of the students that I tutor lives about 2 miles away from me and the journey is mainly one straight road with only two turns to take, yet I had been tutoring him every week for almost two months before I felt that I knew the route well enough to not use my TomTom.)
This kept happening, every few days for a couple of weeks. I did think it was strange that he always insisted that I point things out on the map he had, even when the locations that he was seeking were always so close to where we were, and sometimes they were literally around the corner, but I quietly congratulated myself on how my direction-giving skills must be exceptional and thought nothing much of it.
On one particular evening, I had spotted the man’s car from afar and noticed that at least five other people had walked passed him, but he hadn’t asked any of them for directions.
Predictably, when he saw me approaching, he rolled down his window (remember those days?) and asked me. After pointing out that the place he was looking for was just further down the same street, and him still insisting that I show him on the map, being the astute person that I am, I realised that there was something strange about his behaviour and decided I was going to walk away.
As I straightened myself back up after leaning into the car window, my hand knocked down the map and I noticed that the man was holding something that looked like raw meat.
I remember thinking how unhygienic it was to handle raw meat in that way and walked off.
I’d been walking for about half a mile when I saw a poster advertising a portion of chips with a sausage for £1 in a chip shop window and it FINALLY dawned on me that the type of meat the man was handling was unhygienic for altogether different reasons.
He had been exposing himself to me on multiple occasions and I had been so busy showing off my knowledge of the slum streets of the city centre that I hadn’t even noticed.
Not only that, but I had been facilitating his thrills by pointing things out on the map and had continued to do this on no less than 6 separate occasions! What’s worse is that, despite him targeting me before, I greeted him with a smile and enthusiastically complied each time!
Part of me thinks he hit the jackpot when he met me and it’s no wonder he didn’t bother stopping anyone else who walked passed him that evening, as I doubt he had ever come across such an accommodating victim.
Another part actually feels a little bad for him. I’m guessing that men who expose their bits to women do so for the instant gratification they receive upon seeing the victim’s reaction. This poor chap had to wait two weeks for me for me to even see it and, even then, it wasn’t until I was half way home and saw a picture of a photoshopped banger that I realised what it was. What an incredibly arduous process it turned out to be for him!
PS: You may well laugh, but you should also know that it is not easy being me!