This is exactly what I looked like when I was on my own in Phoenix last week.
The first couple days of our trip, Daniel had a conference in Phoenix so I was on my own to explore the city Sunday-Tuesday. Now, being raised in Birmingham Alabama I am not skilled in public transportation but had to rely on it if I wanted to go anywhere other than our hotel.
Planning an outing for myself last week entailed 30 minutes of pre planning on the Valley Metro website to ensure I knew where I was going, what rail or bus I needed to take and how long it would take me to get to my destination. Now just because I planned 30 minutes ahead of time does not mean that it was flawless. Nope, in fact it was the opposite. When did directions stop saying “turn right” or “turn left”? Why did they change it to “go Southwest” or “walk Northeast” I mean I was willing to look at my device for directions but not about to pull up the compass on my smart phone to figure out what direction I was going… All I could think of was the Friends episode where Joey has to “step into his map.”
For those of you that know me, I do not like to stick out AT ALL. I think it has something to do with being so tall. Growing up I was always a head taller than everyone and I felt like I was always slouching in order to not stick out in the crowd. I did not want to stick out as a tourist who needed help, or more so just a pathetic individual who didn’t know wich way was North.
I quickly learned the difference between 7th Ave and 7th Street when I got off the bus too early and had to walk about 15 blocks. Yes, some of you that are more skilled with public transportation are probably thinking that I should have stayed put and just waited for the next bus to come. While that would have been the smart thing to do, I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing.
I finally learned from my three-day adventure that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing all the time and asking for help from others who do will not kill you. In fact, when I finally realized that, I was able to have a lot of fun interactions while riding on both the light rail and bus systems. Conversations ranged from a gentlemen asking me if I could see Jesus coming back on a white horse right behind my head to people asking me where I was from and telling me all their stories and experiences from time spent in Arkansas…some included stories of outstanding warrants they had in my home state, for some pretty interesting things. I met one girl, Brante, who rides a combination of buses and trains to get to school, work and then home again 6 out of 7 days of the week. Brante is a special young lady. She knows what she wants and she is not letting anything stand in her way to get to it. I hope I can teach my kids to pursue their dreams with the drive and passion that was overflowing in Brante’s voice during our conversation.
So, while I started off with my shark fin on, determined to not stand out in the crowd as a tourist who had no clue what she was doing, I’m pretty sure my goldfish started showing through as people began to ask me if I needed help. I’m glad I finally accepted the help as it led to some fun, memorable times with strangers that helped round out my Phoenix experience.