(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
Wozniak and I could never agree on the definition of “lost.”
Ben sighed. “I don’t suppose we could ever just enjoy our smoothies in your garden without listening to your early morning philosophy.” He was looking toward the front of the house, no doubt hoping another neighbor would join him for support.
This morning’s smoothie was already in our hands and I ignored him.
Bill Wozniak was my project manager and we often worked together in a place that was familiar to neither of us. Since we spent six to nine months there, after a while, we knew our way around, but we were always together at the start of a project and, usually, lost.
This particular conversation took place after work, in Buffalo, on our way to a restaurant someone had told us about down by the lake. The lake next to Buffalo is large and should not have been difficult to find. He was driving and I was studying the rental car map. That’s not difficult since there is no detail on a rental car map. The primary purpose of a rental car map is to get you away from the rental car lot at the airport so you are no longer their problem.
“Why are you looking at the map?” Bill asked.
Because I don’t know where we are.
“We’ve got directions. We’re on our way. We don’t need to know where we are.”
That’s what started it.
We don’t know where we are. We’re lost. I don’t like to be lost. I like to know where we are.
“We’re not lost, he said. “We’re on our way. I never know where I am, anyway. Don’t worry.”
What do you mean we’re not lost? If we don’t know where we are, we are lost.
“Not so. I told you. I never know where I am. We’re not lost unless we don’t get to where we are going.”
You mean to tell me that you don’t consider yourself lost unless you never get to where you’re going? You could conceivably spend days not knowing where you are.
“That’s right,” Bill explained. “If we don’t get to the restaurant until tomorrow morning and spend all night driving and never know where we are, but get to the restaurant for breakfast – we were never lost.”
I would think we were lost the entire time.
“So you’re always lost,” he said.
“You worry too much,” he said. “Here we are at the restaurant. I told you we were not lost. Now you’ll probably want help with the menu.”
Ben sighed again. “And the point to all of this?”
How do we know when we’re lost?
“This is still a problem?” said Ben.
When I got home from that trip, I told my fifteen-year-old daughter. So Wozniak thinks we are lost only if we never get to where we are going, and I think we are lost if we don’t always know where we are. What do you think?
Disinterested she turned to walk away.
Over her shoulder she said, “You’re lost if you don’t know where you’re going.”