Sometimes the long route is better

I know proven theories are generally considered “correct,” but that doesn’t mean they should always be applied in our lives.

Even when you’re driving.

Last week, I had to go find four containers for a movie voting thing at work. My boss gave me the money to get them and enough for my special pens that he hadn’t ordered yet. I figured I could find everything I needed at Office Depot, and there is one barely a mile from where I work, so I knew I could make this a quick trip. (I went around lunchtime and wanted to get back before all of the parking spots in the area of the garage where I park were gone. I still haven’t figured out how to navigate my way through the garage and only know how to get out of it from the one area where I always park. Yes, I have issues.)

Please note: You don’t get on the highway to go to Office Depot. What did I do? I got on the highway. It was one of those moments when you see something happening in slow motion, even though it’s happening at normal speed, but there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Now, is it that big of a deal to take the first exit and make a U-turn and go back? Not really, even if it is a slight waste of gas. But, I was also concerned about the whole time limit thing I gave myself (again, I have issues). I think mostly it’s just frustrating to know you messed up something so simple.

When I made the turnaround, I noticed a Home Depot on the opposite side of the highway than Office Depot. I had a gut feeling that would be useful to me.

I went inside Office Depot and immediately found my special pens. I combed the store for containers, but the only things they had weren’t really what we were looking for, and they were clear. I was given specific instructions that the containers had to be opaque. After all, this was a very serious movie voting activity. I was annoyed that everything I needed wasn’t at one place.

Then two words danced in my head: Home Depot.

exit2
This had exit and detour signs, so it was kind of perfect.

I quickly purchased my pens and hopped back into my car to cross under the highway. I somehow managed to walk to the exact aisle that I needed and found the perfect blue buckets (with lids), and I suddenly knew it was fate that I had gotten on the highway and had to turn around. Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have known the Home Depot was there and would have probably driven somewhere way farther in search of some ideal containers that likely wouldn’t have been as great as those blue buckets. Then, I wouldn’t have gotten a good parking spot and definitely would have gotten lost in the garage.

I know that “smart” people always try to convince us that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” but what if you don’t need to get there in the shortest time? What if it’s really more efficient for you to take a longer route every once in a while?

I can’t help but think of the classic (and Academy Award-snubbed) movie Dumb and Dumber. When Harry falls asleep when it’s Lloyd’s turn behind the wheel on the way to Aspen, Lloyd takes a wrong exit and drives in the complete wrong direction. Now, at first one might think that this is a horrid mishap—and Harry definitely gets quite upset about it—but it actually turns into a good situation. While Harry is beginning his trek home via foot, Lloyd goes and trades the shaggy dog van straight up for a moped. Not only does this totally redeem their friendship, but it also throws the cops off for a bit, as they are looking for the van and not the moped. While the journey to Aspen turned into a longer trip than planned, it actually ended up being a beneficial little detour.

Kind of like some of our own missed exits in life.

I’m 30 years old, and I’ve never had a boyfriend—or been on a real date, for that matter. I often feel like this is a huge detour because it’s definitely not how I imagined my life would be back when I was a young daydreamer. There was that guy in college I thought was really nice, but he stopped talking to me after I didn’t hang out with him one night when I needed to watch a really important football game, instead. Missed exit. There was that guy who was my really good friend for a while, but then everything changed when someone else told him I had feelings for him. It didn’t exactly turn out the way it does in the movies. Missed exit. There was that guy who kissed me and led me on for about 10 months before he decided to cut me off forever without a word or explanation. Missed exit. There are more examples, but I’d like to leave it at those.

When those situations didn’t work out like I had hoped, I was disappointed at the time. I was more frustrated than simply missing an exit or taking the long route somewhere. But looking back now, I know I wasn’t supposed to end up with those guys. I haven’t take the straight-line shortest path when it comes to love, but I’ve reached a point where I’m fine with that. For some reason, I am supposed to take the long route or the never-ending route that might mean I will be single forever—and that’s OK, too. Regardless, I realize that those previously missed exits were as necessary as me U-turning to spot Home Depot.

Don’t get too upset when your plans go awry. Usually the things that don’t happen for some reason or another are because there is something else you need—something better for you.

Sometimes detours will change your life like you’d never imagined and lead you to your own Home Depot.

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