My husband is an aural learner. I am a visual learner.
As a fourth-grade teacher, I could go on and on about the technical definitions of both of these learning styles, but I’m sure that would only confuse you. So let me put it simply.
I like pictures. My husband likes words.
It would seem that such a difference would not be terribly troublesome, but let me assure you that our ability to completely confuse the other in our attempts to communicate effectively would be Guinness-worthy, if the record keepers had such a category as “Ability to Confuse one’s Mate”.
As a case in point, let me tell you about last Thursday.
I teach at an elementary school, less than ten minutes from home. My husband works downtown. I hate downtown. The one-way streets, the traffic jams, and the visual cacophony of signage that fills downtown make the thought of a trip to the city’s center enough to have me curled into the fetal position under the kitchen table.
But last Thursday, I needed to go to our district’s central office, which unfortunately, is downtown. So, in a stunning display of maturity, I asked my husband for directions. What, I emailed him, would be the best route from my school to the district office?
It was a simple request, or so I thought.
I emailed him before school on that Thursday, but between lunchroom duty and an impromptu parent-teacher conference about little Jenny’s poor grade in social studies, I didn’t have time to read his reply before rushing out the classroom door with less than half an hour before my meeting. Instead, I printed his directions and shoved the still-warm paper into my purse.
It was ten minutes into my drive before I had time, at a stop light, to read the directions. Expecting to see a small map with arrows indicating where, and which direction, to turn, I nearly dropped my coffee mug when I unfolded the paper to reveal a page entirely filled with words.
No arrows. No streets not drawn to scale. Just a white page, barely visible under the black, Times New Roman font stretched from one-inch margin to one-inch margin.
Had it been an English assignment, I would’ve been impressed. He’d used full sentences with complete verbs and lots of descriptive language. “After you drive past three stoplights (Capital St.),” one paragraph began, “move over one lane to the left so that you can turn at the fifth intersection (Fourth St.) you come to.”
Unfortunately for both of us, I couldn’t read his complete verbs while driving and still find the street names he so graciously buried in the middle of his sentences.
After ten minutes, I was completely lost and a complete mess. I had no map. I had completely forgotten the address of the district office building. And I no longer had any idea what his directions were saying. With panic setting in, I tossed the paper into the backseat, aimed for the next open parking space I could see, and called my husband.
“I’m lost. I have no idea where I am.”
“Didn’t you get my directions?” he asked.
“I got the one-page essay, but I...I didn’t get it. And now I’m lost and I’ll be late for my meeting.”
“Okay, okay. Where are you?” I heard the amusement teasing the edge of his tone.
“The corner of Fifth and Tower. I’m parked on the street in front of…hang on while I see what building this is…” I leaned over the passenger seat and strained to see the name of the building.
“It’s, um…I can’t see a name yet…wait…it’s my district office.”
I stared at the stainless steel letters on the side of the building, dumbfounded. Lost and confused, I had actually stumbled on the exact building I was looking for, and had gotten a parking place right in front of it to boot.
“You okay now?” My husband was definitely amused now.
“Yes, I am.” I paused to collect myself.
“Good. See you tonight.” I heard chuckling as he hung up.
Obviously, it turned out all right in the end. And that night, my husband brought me flowers to apologize for confusing me…with a city map attached to the bouquet. Now I'll never be confused downtown again.
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