specialist in Parkside," one of my knitting acquaintances told me. It is nothing serious, indeed easily fixed. It seems everyone gets referred to a "specialist" for almost everything these days - the sort of thing the GP would once have dealt with without a second thought.
But that was not why she was telling me the story.
"When I got the appointment the young girl at the reception desk told me, 'I've never heard of Parkside? How do you spell it?' and when I told her she wanted to know whether it was one word or two."
This woman is now in her eighties and she was clearly shocked by the young receptionist's apparent ignorance.
Parkside is an inner suburb, one of the oldest in the city. It used to house a big mental health facility.
The young girl at the reception desk admitted that she had lived in the city all her life. She lives about five kilometres from the suburb in question and works not much further away.
How could she not have heard of a suburb that appears at least with reasonable frequency in the news? How could she not know how to spell it? I wonder if she drives a car. If she is like most young people she almost certainly does and quite possibly has her own car as well. How does she find her way around?
Perhaps I am being unreasonable. There is GPS these days. You don't need map reading skills. Quite possibly she has never looked at a street directory and may not even have seen one. It is likely that even her parents use a GPS system.
I don't have a GPS system on my very, very basic phone. I can look directions up on my desk top computer. I did this the other day - and then promptly found a much easier way to get where I wanted to go because the GPS system does not take into account the different capacities of cats who ride tricycles. :) I could have looked at the street directory we own too but the Senior Cat was looking at that for another reason.
I like looking at maps and street directories. I really feel rather sorry for the young receptionist. No doubt she can find her way wherever she needs to go but she will never have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction of working out the way for herself. She will never have seen the names on the way and wondered about the people who live in those places. Perhaps there are compensations.
But, I still like maps. I can travel anywhere with a map - even if it is just in my mind.