Annie, when your friend, Andrea, reads this and calls to tell you about it I hope she at least mentions the cute diagrams

One very cool thing about living in Salt Lake City other than all the Mormons you can hit with your car is the grid system upon which the entire city is designed. Streets rarely have names here. Instead they feature coordinates like 450 East or 222 North. This eliminates the need to map out directions because the coordinates of the address say exactly where a destination is in the valley. Everything sits in a position relative to the center of the grid (0,0) like a diagram you might see in a math class:

If that doesn’t make any sense it doesn’t matter because all you need to know is that getting from here to there in this city couldn’t be more straightforward. All you have to do is plot the points on the diagram and then take the shortest route. Like this:

That is, unless you’re riding in a car being driven by someone who has no sense of direction and can’t drive faster than paint can dry. Then it looks more like this:

I call this a Hostage Situation, something I borrowed from Jon who during a recent trip to his sister’s cabin in Bear Lake rescued us from a potentially deadly shopping trip. We were touring scenery in the back of his sister’s van when she and his mother made a secret decision to hit a strip of stores just outside town. The women in Jon’s family are incapable of shopping for anything in under four hours. Jon sensed my imminent heart attack and convinced his sister to turn the van around in the middle of traffic and drop us back at the cabin. When we were safely out of the van, feet planted firmly on the Earth below, Jon stuck his head inside the passenger window and yelled, “HOSTAGE CRISIS AVERTED!”

Last Thursday morning I didn’t know that I was agreeing to be kidnapped when I got into a car being driven by my friend, Annie. We had a lunch date with a friend a few miles from here, and a drive that should have taken no more than ten minutes turned into a 45 minute hostage crisis. At one point I asked her if she had any idea where she was going and that was the first moment I think she realized SHE WAS IN A CAR. She came out of her coma if only for a moment to say, “Sorry, I’m just not paying attention.”

NOT PAYING ATTENTION? That’s like saying, “You will never see the outside of this car again.”

Our drive should have looked like the second diagram above, but instead it looked exactly like the third one, like two kids fighting over which way to draw a line on an Etch A Sketch. I probably wouldn’t have been so afraid for my life if she had maintained a speed even close to the speed limit, let’s say, something above 15 mph. Then it would have felt like having 30 stitches just ripped from the side of my face. Pain over. Instead she inched me toward my death. She ripped out each stitch one by one with a rusty pair of pliers and then took a steel bat and knocked out all my teeth.

There are many reasons I never joined the Armed Forces — all those push-ups being a pretty big reason — but the possibility of being taken as a prisoner of war and being subjected to torture to give up information? I’d give up my mom if the enemy even hinted that they might crack my knuckles. But the thing is, if I were ever in a situation where I had to choose my torture, whether it be sleep deprivation or having my blind-folded head dunked into a steaming pot of sewage, I’d gladly have my fingernails ripped from their beds before being forced to get into the car with Annie again.