If you’ve read my posts before, you may remember that I started taking writing seriously in March 2018. I’ve been working on my craft just about every day. If I’m not posting here, I’m reviewing and editing or digging deeper to get to the real story. I recently joined a local writer’s association and today I had my first meeting with a critique group that meets once a month. This particular group regularly has five to six members attending, which is nice to allow everyone a chance to voice their opinions.
As it happens the group just started changing the format and the focus is on flash fiction. That suits me fine because I tend to be wordy. I can use the help. I like to give as much detail as possible to that a person can get the full effect and feel as if they are sharing in the experience.
This week’s topic was to write about an embarrassing moment and the lesson learned. We were to bring six copies for folks to read along. Of course, on my first day, I left the folder with my copies on the kitchen counter as I headed out the door. I’ve Emailed to the group and I’m including my entry below. Let me know what you think.
Critique Group: Embarrassing Moment
In the year before my retirement, “Knee Deep” by The Zac Brown Band was my theme song. That last winter, as I ran away from a New England blizzard, I prayed that tune would carry me through my golden years. I packed a truck, drove south and arrived at my daughter’s doorstep in Florida. My ultimate goal, was for “the only worry in the world” to be “Is the tide gonna reach my chair?” That plan gets complicated in the middle of the Sunshine State, and in a few months I packed another truck and drove further south.
Shortly after arriving in Aguas Claras, Florida, I realized that early retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be. My permanent vacation would have to wait. I became a Realtor, and after a few months, a busy team hired me as an assistant. A significant part of his business was at least thirty minutes away, but I agreed to take the job. It was a no-brainer. It was a great opportunity, and with my handy GPS, I already felt I conquered the South. I became familiar with the new area; clients were starting to refer their friends, I was on my way.
One day, I took a particularly chatty group of snowbirds to search for a piece of paradise that would fit their budget. They brought friends for second opinions, and half the contingency followed my car in caravan style. The first couple of houses were in the general vicinity where our team regularly conducted business, but they wanted to check out condos near the next county to the north. It would be another 15-20 minutes away, no problem. I had taken clients before. I knew how to get there.
We visited a couple of units on the other side of town, and when we finished there, the passengers in the other car needed to stop for gas. While waiting, I remembered that the route I found the last time was not the best to showcase the community. It was Old Florida, but not the charming, sweet-tea–on-the-veranda scenes from the brochures. There were old houses that needed maintenance and broken down cars or tractors were the lawn ornaments out front. I wanted to reprogram my GPS to avoid that route. All I needed to do was go back to the main road and not take the first right. The GPS would automatically “recalculate” and we would be all set.
For some reason, as we drove away from the gas station, I turned West instead of East, and it was downhill from there. The traffic had picked up by now, and I lost my bearings. I drove a little further to where I thought there was a road that would connect to back, but the GPS kept yelling at me to make a U-turn. There were “NO U-TURN” signs posted all along that road. I was flustered, I could feel my face burning, but I kept going following new the directions on the GPS.
I kept driving hoping the GPS was going to turn to the main road that ran parallel, but the GPS has a mind of its own, and it didn’t. The caravan kept heading north, which was fine but instead of moving toward the East, the road curved out toward the West. We drove through what could have been a picturesque fishing town with water from the bayous overstepping their boundaries and reaching the edge of the road. It wasn’t.
After a while, we reached the State Road where I could finally turn east and get to the condo community. When we got there, and as soon as the passengers in the other car got out I was reprimanded for taking a long way around. A drive that should have taken 15 mins took 45. I played it off as if I was showing my out-of-town clients the scenic route, but no one was amused. Needless to say, they didn’t buy anything, and I never heard from them again.
Lesson Learned: Don’t trust the GPS and map out your destination the old-fashioned way if you have no idea where you are going.