First Lecture

Day one of specialized courses on human awkwardness and uncomfortable situations.

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Welcome, and congratulations for making it here. We don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to find new locations. In this short introductory course, we have one simple focus: what to do when you’re trying to navigate your way to a place you’ve never been before and accidentally take a wrong turn.

Today, we’ll begin with turning around in the middle of the sidewalk. We’ve all been in this situation, so please don’t be embarrassed. You’ve been following directions well until suddenly, you realize you’re standing in the wrong spot and must backtrack. Although a clear admission of being lost, don’t panic; there are several ways to play this off.

1. First, you can perform the elusive shoe-tying correction.

Bend down, and whilst close to the ground, discreetly pivot directions. Untie, then tie your shoelace again before standing, now facing the direction Google Maps would like you to go.

2. If you are wearing stylish boots or Velcro sneakers and option one is unavailable to you, try the Sudden Thought method.

Now, this one is a bit trickier to perfect, and we typically recommend it to those who have a background in acting. As you realize that you’re walking in the opposite direction of your destination, bring your hand to your chin and imagine a lightbulb appearing above your head. Thinking something along the lines of “My oven is on!” or “I have a deadline to meet!” hold up your index finger in the air, and abruptly turn around. As you make your way in the correct direction, be sure to pick up the pace, alerting passersby that you are in fact late to something you forgot about until this very moment. When executed well, this method will in fact make you appear important rather than lost.

3. Another tried and true solution: the Phone Call.

Similar to the Sudden Thought method, this one requires a bit of stealth as you pretend to hear your cell phone ring. (Again, please note that this skill works best with some degree of acting training.) Put your phone to your ear and shout something along the lines of, “What’s happened to the house?!” or “Smith has done what with the budget?!” The more urgent your tone, the more quickly you must turn around and jog, run, or, if appropriate, sprint in the opposite direction. Please also note that this may alert bystanders to danger and some concerned citizens may inquire if you need assistance. Use this advanced method with caution.

4. The next option, the Poet’s Crouch, is a bit more subtle, but requires paying close attention to precision.

As you come to the realization you’re going the wrong way, keep walking, but be on the lookout for the nearest stoop. When you’ve come across said stoop, have a seat and be sure to look deep in thought, or perhaps appear to be writing a poem in your mind. It helps to pull out a notebook, which you should always carry with you if you are prone to direction confusion, as this prop can not only serve to help you in this specific method, but also might be a good place to write down directions to prevent navigation errors from happening in the future. Pull out the notebook and jot down anything you’d like. Nonsense is acceptable so long as you look busy. Have you ever seen the Thinker statue? Try to emulate that. Once you’ve been sitting for an appropriate amount of time (use your discretion, but once the witnesses who saw you take a seat have passed is a good marker), stand upright and walk in the correct direction.

5. Finally, as you recognize your navigational error, find a loud, large group exiting a building and walking in the direction you’d like to go.

This move only has a 62% success rate, and must be considered only in dire situations. As you see them near, lump onto their group as if you’d been looking for them all this time. Say, “Ben!” as there is usually someone named Ben in groups such as these, and join them for the duration of your journey (or until they ask you to leave).

6. If all else fails, simply continue on your way in the wrong direction.

Maybe you’ll find something interesting.

We hope you've learned some valuable lessons in this course, and if you haven't, we urge you to travel with a map or a buddy. Stay tuned for our next course, “How to Ask for Directions.”