My boss lives in the same general direction from The Mercury office as I do, so the question seemed pretty straightforward.
“What’s the fastest way to get over to the west side of Manhattan?”
His confident expression, the kind you see from longtime residents, made me think the conversation would be short and to the point.
“Well, what I do,” he said, “is take Bluemont — which you know turns into Anderson, right? — and just kind of go that way out of habit. I’ve just gotten used to it and I kind of like driving past K-State, but…”
“You know, since they’ve been working on Bluemont, I’ve started sort of a detour. I go up to…uh…well…”
“It’s 11th, I think, and then…”
Maybe 10 minutes later, he was still trying to explain where he abandoned his temporary route.
Meanwhile, my eyes were glazing over.
This isn’t to make fun of anyone, let alone the man who signs my paychecks, but here’s the truth: When you ask for directions here, you’d better have some spare time.
See, unless you’re asking how to get to the football stadium, there’s no correct way.
I live out near CiCo, and you probably know that the newspaper is at Fifth and Osage. So after a week or two of trying a few routes and tweaking things with a turn here and a cut-off there, I should have a routine drive to the office and back, right?
See, the deal is Manhattan is that there isn’t a “right” way to get anywhere. And if someone gives you directions…well, good luck.
In fact, I’ve settled into a pattern that involves THREE totally different trips to work and back.
And many days, I’ll take the longer and simpler route (Kimball to Tuttle Creek to Bluemont, then left over the bumps on Fifth to the office), then head home another way — Leavenworth to Sixth because Fifth ends at the courthouse, left to the “Dead End” sign, right to Juliette, left to Fort Riley Boulevard, right to Seth Child Road, right to Dickens unless I’m stopping to pick up my dry cleaning, but…oh, never mind.
You don’t really care.
And besides, I change up how I zig and zag those last few streets, anyhow — depending on phases of the moon, or if the sun’s in my eyes, or whether I want to hear the last few sentences of something on KMAN.
Heck, I have no idea at all how I decide.
I’ve timed these various routes and detours and special little shortcuts, and it doesn’t make any real difference at all.
There probably are hundreds of ways to make what is, to be honest, a fairly short and simple journey. And everyone you meet will swear they know the fastest way.
What I’ve learned for certain is this: If ANY trip in Manhattan takes more than 15 minutes, there’s been an accident gumming up traffic or you’ve blown the transmission.
So don’t sweat it. Unless you make one truly bizarre turn and wind up at the zoo.
In that case, explain it to Vladamere. You know, the leopard.
He probably got there faster than you did.