I’ve never been good with directions. Just one of the many things men are supposed to do well that I have never quite grasped. I have lived in Los Angeles for five years now, and I’m still a mess every time I get on the freeway. It doesn’t help that the three major highways one uses to get around LA are called the 10, the 110, and the 101. You’d have to be some kind of Einstein to keep those three separate.
Knowing this about myself, it was probably foreseeable that any plan to walk from Zeta Psi to East Quad going strictly through backyards was bound to end in disaster. It seemed like a great idea at one o’ clock on a Friday night, when both Josh and I were seven sheets to the wind. We probably should have taken into account the weather before hatching our plan; Ann Arbor was in the midst of the biggest snowstorm of the year and it was FREEZING. Also, Josh was wearing a sleeveless vest and a t-shirt. In retrospect, not the best idea we’ve ever had.
I’m not sure quite where we took a wrong turn. Zeta Psi was a straight shot from East Quad, about five blocks south on East University. But once we made that first wrong turn, we just kept on wrong-turning.
After about 1/2 an hour of walking, we decided it was time to abandon our backyard plan. What we needed was to find a main street, any main street. Wherever we were, none of the street names were recognizable. We soldiered on through the driving snow, completely off our bearings. Every few blocks we’d see a street we thought we recognized; we’d follow it and end up in yet another completely alien environment.
1/2 an hour turned into an hour turned into 2. We began to get desperate, looking for garages where we could crash for the rest of the night. We wanted to hitchhike, but the roads were frozen over and there were no cars to be found anywhere. I seriously began to wonder if we would make it out alive. Just our luck we’d freeze to death in a highly populated city because we drunkenly thought it would be fun to walk home through backyards.
Finally, after several hours of walking, we stumbled upon an open warehouse where newspapers were being distributed for morning deliveries. We walked in like two visitors from Antarctica, icicles dangling from our body parts. We could barely contain our joy at being given a second chance at life. We walked up to the nearest person, a grizzled old newspaper-delivery veteran and explained our situation.
“We’ve been walking for hours, and we need a ride back to our dorm,” we stammered breathlessly. “Can you please help us?” Reluctantly, the guy agreed to give us a ride. I’m sure there was nothing charming about two semi-coherent college students begging for a ride when the guy was just trying to do his job and get on with his life. But we didn’t give two shits about what kind of impression we were making; we’d survived, and that was all that mattered.
We thanked the man profusely as he drove us back to our dorm. It turned out we were several miles away from campus; how we’d gotten there was anybody’s guess. “Dude,” we told the guy when he dropped us off at East Quad. “We can’t thank you enough. You saved our lives.”
He cast a steely-eyed glance at Josh and me, clearly unmoved by our gratitude. “Don’t call me dude,” he said in a menacing growl, then peeled off down the road.