Several months ago, I lost the gel pad for my cell phone headset's earpiece, so I stopped using it. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the Verizon store and bought a set of replacement gels, so I've been able to use the headset again. In the days since then, I've made numerous wrong turns while driving and wearing the headset -- even when not actually using the phone. I made two wrong turns on my way to Albany last week, and one wrong turn on the way to Cambridge, plus a couple on local trips here in town. And I made four wrong turns today, all within the space of about two minutes.
I was driving to a client this afternoon. Their office isn't even ten miles away -- not exactly unfamiliar territory. I got off the highway at exit 8 instead of at exit 10. Now, that could be excusable because I do use exit 8 very frequently for other purposes, at least once a week and frequently more often, so this could just have been habit. I realized my error, however, and turned around to head back to the highway, and I took the Southbound ramp. Exit 10 is North of exit 8. That, too, could be excusable because when I'm at exit 8 heading toward the highway, way more often than not I'm on my way home, and that means I'm going South. This too, looks like habit. Upon realizing this second error, I got off the highway at exit 7, but instead of exiting on ramp 7E which would have positioned me so that I could get back on the highway immediately, I exited at 7W which pointed me away from the highway. I should point out that, although it was more than 20 years ago, I used to live not more than a quarter mile from that particular highway interchange, and indeed 7W is the ramp I would use to get to that old apartment. Up until this point, a good working theory, therefore, might be that the neurons devoted to making decisions have been sucked out through my ear, leaving only the ones that work by habit.
As I realized that I was still heading in the wrong direction, however, I decided to pull into a conveniently-placed jughandle to turn around to get back to the Northbound highway entrance. This particular jughandle is one I've navigated hundreds of times, and the fact that it is just a few feet past the entrance to a supermarket parking lot is second nature. I turned into the supermarket instead of the jughandle. This one wasn't habit at al! I very rarely go to that market or to the restaurant that shares it's lot entrance. I have to conclude, therefore, that the headset is not selective about the neurons that it sucks out. It sucks out the decision-makers. It sucks out the habit repeaters. It has also clearly sucked out the ones that should have told me not to post this story.
1. Danny Lawrence11/03/2005 12:40:12 PM
You know what they say Rich, "When your memory goes, you can forget it!"
2. jonvon11/03/2005 05:34:17 PM
i'm astounded both by this story and the fact that you can replay it so confidently from memory.
although i have to admit, it sounds like something i could easily do. especially in boston.