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Street Names · 22 March 2014


Street names are overrated. For the most part.


My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, thinks it odd that I do not navigate by street signs. I think it odd that she does. Of course, neither of us is right, but it does make for interesting conversations. Especially, when getting or giving directions.


I was reminded of this difference in opinions when I overheard some of our bus drivers talking in the staff lounge the other day. They were talking about navigating with landmarks. Like I do. I only overheard a bit of the conversation, but I was glad to hear that I am not the only one who navigates by landmarks.


Part of the reason I do not remember too many street names is because I do not really think they are that important. But another part is that I have often found it difficult to find street names. The signs are so small that their names cannot be read by normal human beings until it is too late. “That was the street,” is said while driving by the street too many times when watching for street signs. And if I know the area already, I do not bother to remember all the street names. They just get absorbed with time. Lots of time.


Do not get me wrong. I do remember some street names. They just happen to be in places where I have lived or worked for long periods of time. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi thinks this is strange. After all, she reasons, if I like writing and working with words, I ought to remember words like street names. This makes complete logical sense. Except that writing is all about imagery. The words make a difference, but only in the sense that they create an image in the reader’s mind. Of course, I just came up with that argument, but perhaps I can use it the next time my wife and I discuss street names.


Then again, the next time we talk about street names and navigation, I will need to admit that I have recently used those pesky signs.


I was in a town where I have never been and found myself looking for street signs as I was looking for a place I was supposed to be. The street signs were large and unobstructed so it was actually easy to find where I was going. I had looked at a map and figured I could find the place, but forgot some of the streets. But in describing the route to get there to somebody else, I had the important street names memorized. It was a good thing that I had. And it was a good thing there were only two or three streets to remember.


Now that I think about it, I probably ought not tell this story to The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi. She will undoubtedly use it against me in her pursuit of getting me to learn street names. She will argue that if I have done it once, I can do it again. And I will have no argument against that logic. Except those small and obscured street signs.


When it comes right down to it, I really do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to remembering street names. I know many (even though most of them are in the area where I grew up) and I can obviously do it when necessary. But maybe I just like the imagery of navigating by landmarks instead of signposts. Or maybe I just like having stimulating conversations with my wife. Either way, when it comes right down to it, street names are overrated in my book.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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