Unless you’ve been around and about the Camp LeJeune Base for years, you’re bound to get lost looking for specific buildings. That’s a statement that automatically seals my fate. I have the worst sense of direction. It’s a running joke in my family that I could get lost in a paper bag with a flashlight. When Evan and I were dating, as short as that was, his very first gift to me became my second best friend in the world – Garmin (aka, a gps system). That should tell you something right there. April of last year, Evan was gone for some training op (surprise, surprise) and I was left the task of going to the Tax Center to take care of our tax returns. I was so excited about having this responsibility, because it meant that I would be going on base all by my self, and it wasn’t just to go to the Commissary. I looked up the address of the base tax center, hopped in the car, and plugged the address in my Garmin. Little did I know that gps systems will only take you to the base, but that’s the farthest it will get you. I thought the thing was broken when I went through the front gate, and then all of a sudden the little car on the screen looked like it was driving in the middle of nowhere. Garmin, in her annoying monotone voice, kept saying, “Please make a U-turn. Make a U-turn. U-turn!”
“I can’t!” I screamed back. I can only imagine what the people in the cars next to me were thinking. To punish Garmin, I turned her off. Then, the freak-outs started to begin. Where in the world is the tax center? How am I supposed to find it?! I only know how to get to the Commissary! I could ask someone. No! They would know I’m a newbie. I need to stay in the car. Oh, I wish Evan was here! *gasp!* We’re never going to get our tax return money and it will be all MY fault! And so on… Before I drove much farther, a bright idea occurred to me. I decided to turn Garmin back on, just in case. Bing! The little car on the screen suddenly started driving on real roads again. So, apparently you can’t turn the gps on until you actually get on base. Happy again, I started singing with the radio as Garmin smoothly took me around a corner and down a street to… a lot between two buildings, neither of which were the tax center. That alone ruined my relationship with Garmin. The buildings’ numbers were somewhat in the same general range, so I decided I would hoof it. I grabbed what I needed and exited the car. I started down one end of the street, peering very hard at the buildings, looking for a tell-tale sign. I probably looked like a suspicious stalker. When that end of the street produced nothing, I turned around and walked the other way. Somehow along the way, I got lost and found myself in the middle of a bunch of barracks buildings. Marines who were standing around and chatting stared at the poor lost woman as I walked by. Instead of asking me if I needed help (which I obviously did), they just continued to watch. I felt like they were waiting for me to do something exciting. Nothing exciting about a lost woman wandering aimlessly, people! Look away! Look away! After about twenty minutes of walking in circles, I was still lost. I felt my face get hot with embarrassment and anger, as pregnancy hormones rushed in. I whipped out my phone and began feverishly texting Evan. I was an anxious, tired, emotional, hormonal, sweaty, feet-hurting, pregnant wife. You can imagine how happy and nice those text messages were.
After what seemed like hours, I finally found the car again. I yanked open the door, threw down my purse, and slammed the door shut. “I’m never agreeing to do something on base ever again!” I said out loud to no one. As I started heading back down the street in the direction I came, right at the corner that I had turned on sat a small building with a very large yellow sign that read, “Tax Center.” Humbled, I parked the car and gently pulled out my phone to recant all my messages to Evan. I learned some valuable lessons that day:
- Never fully trust Garmin. She’s not always your best friend.
- Always call ahead for directions before going somewhere on base, but be sure to ask to talk to a female. No offense, but the male Marines give horrible directions.
- Don’t text your husband while under the influence of pregnancy hormones.
- The guy at the front desk couldn’t care less about your “getting lost” story.