The combination of me behind the wheel and driving to San Francisco has yet to work out well.
Long, long ago when I first learned to drive (I was 21 at the time – please don’t judge) I dated someone who lived in Oakland. As this was long, long, ago I had to do things like rely on verbal directions scribbled on a scrap of paper, a map and my “sense of direction” (the quotes are totally appropriate here) to get me anywhere. I was given directions to get to this gentleman’s home that I now know to be CRAP.
(I was given the commemorative names of the freeways I was to take instead of just saying “take 580″.)
So, instead of ending up in the cute neighborhood where this guy lived (that had NO parking, might I add) I ended up very, very, very lost.
Long story short, my drive to meet a guy for a date included:
- The refusal of a gas station clerk to provide directions ANYWHERE
- Directions from a random person in the gas station parking lot
- A trip over the Bay Bridge using the bus lane in the toll plaza (oopsie) using said directions from random person in the parking lot
- A sweat soaked trip through the Embarcadero and BACK over the Bay Bridge
- Getting lost in a VERY bad neighborhood trying to find my way to safety (fail on that one)
- Finding a pay phone and getting propositioned by guys in a low rider, “Heeeeey Baby! How YOU doin’?”
- Finally being rescued by my date after being told to “Get back in the car. LOCK the doors. Don’t move. I’ll come get you.”
Great way to start the date. I should have had a clue and just drove home and passed on the entire experience of our “relationship”.
But, I digress…
This was my history with me driving to San Francisco. I have not driven in a car I’ve been responsible for manouvering in San Francisco since. I drive a stick shift with passable skill. PASSABLE. That does not include crazy San Francisco-style hill hell. Therefore, if I’m going to San Francisco I will either make someone else drive or take public transit.
But, in current day, I now have a friend who lives in San Francisco. She lives in the flat part (as long as you get off of the freeway in the correct spot and don’t have to double-back). I also have technology on my side with Google Navigation on my awesome smartphone. I convinced myself that a drive to the city was not only possible but would be easy and enjoyable.
Oh, how wrong I was.
See, I didn’t account for the evil sense of humor from those pesky Google employees. (I should know better; after all, these are the people who will give you directions from New York to Paris that include swimming across the Atlantic.)
Things were going well – outside of the INSANE traffic on a Saturday morning in the MacArthur Maze. (I could not do that commute each day. 40 minutes = 1 mile is not okay.) I had my directions chirping at me from my phone. I glanced at the map and the written directions. I “had it under control”.
I made it through the maze and into the correct lane in the bridge toll plaza…
I didn’t get run out of my lane at the metering lights….
I was enjoying the scenery of the new bridge construction and gearing up for my big slow down at the “S” curve-of death near Yerba Buena Island.
Then, all the shit came off the rails.
I just didn’t know it yet.
I drove through the tunnel and onto the suspension portion of the bridge into San Francisco. I was in the center lane, as I wasn’t sure if my exit was on the right or left of the road. But, it was okay, because I knew which exit I needed: 1C. Then, Ms. Navigation informed me that no – I needed Exit 2B. Exit on Left. NOW!
So, off the freeway I go. Then, I’m informed to make the first left. Then, another left…
BACK ONTO THE BRIDGE – only this time I’m going back to Oakland.
WTF just happened here?
I’m informed to stay on the bridge and then exit at Treasure Island. I look at my map – it wants me to take the Treasure Island exit – TOUR the freaking island – and then get BACK onto the bridge going BACK to San Francisco and take….
Wait for it….
Now, the on ramp from Treasure Island back onto the Bay Bridge is a death trap. There is no actual ramp, but a small space of road with a stop sign immediately after the Yerba Buena tunnel. The entrance is blind, and everyone is driving through the tunnel like Satan is at their heels in recoup for needing to drive 35mph through the S-curve-of-death immediately prior.
I made the decision to drive back to Oakland and try again.
Then Google Navigation asked me to make a U-Turn.
(For those of you not in the know – the Bay Bridge has two levels, each going their own direction. The only result of a U-Turn is death.)
My mini-tour of the Oakland dock area immediately after the Bay Bridge where I turned around included snippets like “take a slight right” being repeated over and over – when the only thing to my right was railroad tracks…
I got to my friend’s house after ignoring the change in directions (which happened again – RIGHT after the tunnel – what the heck Google?????) and continuing on to my correct exit. I was a full hour late, damp with flop sweat (ewwww) and speaking in that manic voice that clearly says I just experinenced a near death experience.
I kinda had. Google hates me and is clearly in cahoots with the Bay Bridge to get me.
Next time I’m taking BART.