Tuesday, October 28, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: Lessons Learned while "Lost"

by Amanda Fondriest

Ten minutes.

For ten minutes, Athens MidDay reporter Ryan Scarpino and I followed the designated detour around the construction that has closed a portion of Route 56 this week, only to find that the only thing we had succeeded in doing was driving ten minutes in the wrong direction.

And it’s not like I am some crazed driver who insists upon finding her own way around a town that she really doesn’t know all that well. I followed the signs. I didn’t get lost—-well, I didn’t turn off the designated route--but in all honesty, only the Lord and ODOT knew where we were. And, to make my father proud, I didn’t stop to ask directions. Yet, I also never succeeded in getting us to our destination via that route.

Now I am no brain surgeon and certainly not a rocket scientist or some other highly intelligent being that fits into the cliché job description of brainiac careers. However, I am smart enough to know that one does not drive north to get west as the designated detour directs.

Always Follow Sound Advice.
At our first interview on the construction project story, Director of Athens City Street Department, Andrew Stone, informed us not to follow the detour—that it would get us lost. (We should note that this detour was designed by the state transportation department, and therefore could only use state routes.) Then, a local resident we talked to told us that the detour made no sense and to just cut through the construction zone. Both sound arguments. Both arguments that we so ignorantly chose to ignore. Awesome decision on our part, I might add.

Admittance Is The First Step.
So, basically, after driving five miles in an attempt to reach a business only half a mile from the start of the construction zone, the banter in the car went a little something like this.

Me—“Ryan, I refuse to keep following this detour. It’s getting us nowhere. We're lost.”

Ryan—“Stop it. We're not lost: we're just misguided. Just keep following it.”

Me—“Not happening. Call them.”

Ryan—“And say what? The detour is wrong? Not happening.”

Me (angrily pulling the car into some driveway in the middle of nowhere)—“Well, I am not driving past this point. Call.”

Ryan (dialing the phone)—“Amanda, I swear, if I die here…”

Apparently under the belief that some crazy man with an eighteenth century musket was going to come running out of the quaint suburban home, Ryan called, finding out that-—here’s the shocker-—the detour is not wrong, but it is the MOST roundabout way of getting to this business.

Sometime's Getting There Is All The Fun.
After getting back to the beginning of our journey—the intersection of Union Street and Route 682—we got to Richland, hung two easy rights and a left, ending five minutes later at Kerr Distributors. Did we get the interview that this whole scenic drive caused? Nope. But did we have fun? Yes.

The Moral Of The Story...
Somewhere along the way I became so wrapped up in the stress of potentially missing the 11am airing of Gilmore Girls that I forgot to acknowledge the truly humorous story that had developed. When I look back on this day from some far-off place in the future, I won't remember not getting the interview, I'll remember the crazy songs from the 80s we sang; the bag of salt and vinegar chips we devoured for nourishment, even though, according to Ryan, we were never lost; and the laughter.

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