It was a little after 930pm when, like nearly every Thursday night for the past three months, I got in my car to drive home after class.
Now, before we continue, you should know I frequently get turned around when driving new places but I am almost never lost. I love maps and I study them multiple times before driving somewhere for the first time, so even if I make a wrong turn along the way, I can usually reorient myself without having to check the map.
So, you would think, after making this trip home eight or so times I would very well know precisely where I was going, but if that’s what you think, you would be wrong.
I did one thing right: I got on M-59 W. Then I did one thing wrong: I missed my exit for I-75 S. And I didn’t realize it.
Which means when I saw an exit for Opdyke Rd, I was confused. And then when I saw a sign that said the freeway was ending, I was confused, increasingly panicked, and hopelessly lost.
And not just anywhere, but in Pontiac.
Did I mention it was after 930? AT NIGHT?!
I can think of only one other city in Michigan I would like to be lost in less, and no, it’s not Detroit.
I kept driving down M-59 because the last thing I was about to do while lost in Pontiac at night was STOP AND PULL OUT MY PHONE FOR DIRECTIONS. I figured soon enough I would find a major southbound road I recognized and trusted for to carry me home.
Soon enough I saw a sign for business 24, which I knew wasn’t 24 proper but was close enough. I grew up just off 24 (albeit much further south), and there’s a comfort about the road home that lingers even when the home hasn’t been so to you for years. So I followed the appropriate signs in a giant loop (because Pontiac, unlike the majority of metro Detroit, is a hot mess of roads going every which way) until it straightened out to look more about the 24 I well know and dearly love.
Except then it wasn’t, because while stopped at a red light, looking around the intersection, I realized the signs I expected to say TELEGRAPH really said WOODWARD. Which, either would accomplish getting me home but I am approximately .9% acquainted with Woodward and 89.9% practically related to Telegraph. So, thank you, Woodward, but NO. Just no.
Fortunately but unfortunately the next intersection was Square Lake Rd. I say fortunately because this squared my geographical context a little better (pun intended) but I say unfortunately because I have never yet, not even in broad daylight, managed once to properly navigate the intersection of Square Lake Rd. + Woodward + Lahser + whatever else because the northern edge of Bloomfield Township, like its neighbor Pontiac, thins convoluted roads are the new black.
Which I guess if the asphalt was poured recently, it is. But that’s neither here nor there nor lost in Pontiac.
I can’t really explain to you why I read road signs any better than every other time I’ve been at Square Lake Rd., but somehow I figured out I should make one and only one U-turn and then follow signs for I-75 proper and only I-75 proper, although I will tell you I saw another sign for Opdyke Rd. and was fully convinced I would end up on I-75 N as if I wanted to
as if the first option hadn’t been bad enough the first time.
But then the two right lanes were topped with a sign reading
and NO ONE, I tell you, has been happier to see that sign than I was at that moment. Nor, dare I say, will they ever.