According to countless frustrated spouses, men seem to suffer from an
irrational resistance to stopping to ask directions when lost in strange
territory. That this trait is shared by most, if not all men, and has proven so
resistant to the attempted behavior modifications and downright nagging of
so many women, suggests a genetic predisposition. I have discovered that
the reason is that men just don’t feel they are lost.
Another reason that I have discovered is that the action of stopping and
asking directions is fruitless and a waste of time. The last few times that I
have stopped at the nearest convenience store to ask for directions I was met
a. The clerk just arrived from outer Mongolia and could not speak
English well enough to assist, or
b. The manager had only been there for one week and knew nothing
about the city, or
c. The person did not know where he was himself, so how could he
Apparently schools do not teach students how to give directions any longer.
I recall being specifically taught how to do that in school.
According to the scientists who have studied things like this, this behavior in
men goes way back to the “hunter/gatherer” days. In pre-historic days, the
men were the hunters of food, the women and children were the gatherers of
what the man produced. The hunter, of necessity, would travel a long
distance, perhaps in unchartered territory, in search of where the deer and
The hunters needed a greater spatial understanding of their surroundings.
Since the behaviors of their prey were heavily influenced by the terrain, the
stalking hunter needs to know not only his own location and the location of
the prey, but also the nature of the area in which the prey will be found.
Stopping and asking directions would be a meaningless exercise for hunters.
Hunting tends to be an undertaking where only the first hunters on the scene
have any opportunity. After the first hunters do their thing, the game is
either dead or long gone. So by definition, if there is someone available of
whom directions can be asked, it’s no longer worth doing. Success as a
hunter required being able to find your own way.
It is worthy to note here that down through most of humanity’s past, women
have selected as fathers of their children those men who appeared to possess
the best skills as a hunter, men who were genetically adapted to not asking
In the past travelers wandering lost in the wilderness were considered
intrepid explorers and lauded as heroes. How could there have been an age
of discovery if men asked directions and accurately navigated to only those
known locations they intended to visit? Only by accidentally making enough
wrong turns and doggedly proceeding with great conviction far enough in
the wrong direction can one discover that which is by definition unknown.
It has been said that men created maps so they wouldn’t have to ask
for directions. The great voyages of discovery were launched specifically to
plot the world and fill in the gaps in the maps. We all know that most
women cannot read maps correctly, so they would be of no help.
So before denigrating men for possessing a trait that seems out of place in
our modern partly civilized world, remember that this world that makes men
seem out of place is largely a direct result of that very trait. Remember also
that we are poised on the brink of becoming a space-faring species. There
aren’t any convenient gas stations out there in space at which to stop and ask
directions. In space, we will once again need those men who can find their
own way, even if they often don’t end up where they thought they were
One last thought – I have discovered that when a man is giving you
directions and he says turn left, but his hand simultaneously points right,
always follow the way the hand moved and you won’t get lost.