So we all know about the road layout and the road sign markings in the city of Dublin. After living here several months, we have been able to get a good feel for the street layout in our own neighborhood, but are still hopelessly lost when going to unfamiliar places or taking unfamiliar routes.
On a recent evening, I left for work on my bike, and was ready to take the one and only route I knew to get to my destination. As I got to one of the busy intersections of my route, I saw a mass of people being directed by Garda (police) officers. Unbeknownst to me, there was a big rugby match on that night at another stadium that happens to be on my route. All roads to that stadium except the main entrance were blocked and closed to foot or vehicle traffic. This presented me with a huge problem, because I really didn't know any other way to get to that part of town except a ridiculously long loop that would have taken me almost an hour to complete. On a grid-patterned street plan, I could have simply gone down two blocks until I passed the closed streets before turning back to my destination. In Dublin, going down two streets and turning could lead to catastrophe, especially at night.
I explained my situation to the Garda officer. He couldn't let me take the Dodder River trail to work, and the only directions he could offer me were, "Go down here a ways, turn left, go a ways, and turn right and you'll see it." Before he had to deal with another mass of people. Please understand that I don't blame the officer, he couldn't take time at that moment to give me a detailed, turn-by-turn plan, but I was stumped and in trouble. Luckily, the Dublin Direction Gods were smiling down upon me that night.
Another gentleman was nearby to ask the officer the same question, he was walking home and lived in the neighborhood of my destination. As a resident, detours weren't a problem for him, but he understood my pickle immediately. He offered to walk me down to the correct road and get me going the right way to my destination. We chatted about the charmingly frustrating layout of the city until we got to the correct road. He showed me the rest of my route on his phone and sent me on my way.
Needless to say, my confidence was not very high while taking the unfamiliar road at night. I am always nervous that I have missed critical turns or have forgotten directions. After riding maybe a half-mile, I stopped and asked a walking couple the name of a street. They told me all of the streets around were blocked (because of that rugby match) but asked me about my destination. When I told them, they lit up at the chance to help me. "Just continue down this street and you'll see it right there!"
Sure enough, after turning one more corner, I saw a familiar sight and was back on track. I even made it to work on time after all those delays. Luckily, I always give myself a good window when cycling just in case I run into situations like this one. I have to offer my thanks for the Dublin Direction Gods and the people who embodied them that night. Without the help of the first resident putting me on the right street and the second couple who bolstered my confidence in the road, I would have been hopelessly lost and certainly late that night. I hope someday to pay that favor back and give some poor lost soul directions when they need them as much as I did.
Funnily enough, the Garda officer was technically correct when he told me, "Go down here a ways, turn left, go a ways, and turn right and you'll see it." I guess I can't begrudge him too much...