I have been on the road a lot lately. Today I drove out of Williamsburg Brooklyn to Philadelphia on my way to visit my daughter Rose. The thin little female voice coming from my iPhone was right there to faithfully guide me every mile of the way. I was on the New Jersey Turnpike for a good stretch of the way. In spite of how importantly that particular road figures in Mrs Springsteen's discography, I found it a boring route. I was hankering for the scenic route so I paid my $5 and got off the turnpike.
I ended up in Burlington New Jersey, a city that looked like it had seen better times (a long time ago). A city that has yet to experience the juggernaut of gentrification many inner cities across the country have enjoyed. Burlington is a city still very much in ruins. I pulled into a gas station because my oil light was flashing and bought a couple quarts of 10W 30 Gulf motor oil. (I'm driving a 2001 Toyota Celica thats seems to be oil thirsty.) The Indian man presiding over this particular dumpy Gulf station made change not out of a cash register but from a thick wad of bills he pulled from his pocket. I asked him if he sold maps and he just looked at me dumbfounded for what seemed like a long time but was probably just half a second until he said "What?". I repeated my request, "Do you sell road maps, you know...like we used to use when we traveled before smart phones?" He seemed both bothered and confused suggesting I try Walgreens. After I fed my Toyota its motor oil I got back on to main street, pulling a U-turn, and made my way into the Walgreens parking lot across the street. I bought a $15 Road Atlas, a $10 magnifying glass and a $1.25 bottled water.
I turned off my GPS, pulled out onto Main street and promptly got lost. I must have forgotten how to read maps. I was wanting the scenic route to Philly but even with my magnifying glass and my brand new map (which just looked like a confusing jumble of lines, numbers and had very few streets named). Well it wasn't long before I had my GPS turned back on, my little Toyota back on to highway 76, and my newly purchased Road Atlas tossed into the back seat.