Consider a traditional direction in a Canadian city: walk toward Tim Hortons, turn right at the church and walk toward the Royal Bank. Relatively simple. Ask any Canadian now for similar guidance and today you are more likely to get an instruction like: walk to the Tim Hortons, turn right, walk three blocks to the Tim Hortons, turn left and your destination in on the right, beside the Tim Hortons.
Let’s break the problem down.
Most directions in Canadian cities now begin with the instruction: walk toward the Tim Hortons. In every major urban area in Canada that instruction alone will now send you in any one of 4 directions. In cities like Ottawa, whose geography is influenced by rivers, and are therefore not laid out on a grid, the instruction could send you in twice that many directions.
If that isn’t bad enough, the possibility for error correction is nearly non-existent. Say, for example, you set off in the wrong direction. In earlier days error correction was possible. Consider, for example the instruction walk toward the Tim Hortons and take a right and walk three blocks to the Tim Hortons. Not finding a Tim Hortons would alert you that you initially set off in the wrong direction. Now, more likely than not there will be a Tim Hortons at every decision point in that wrong direction. Indeed, in most cases the first two or three steps in any set of instructions could be valid regardless of your orientation.
What can be done? Direction experts suggest you ask servers inside a Tim Hortons for guidance. Using Tim Hortons as a starting point increases that chance that your first turning point will not be a Tim Hortons. The chances still remain small so the next trick is just as important. When you reach the next Tim Hortons in your path, buy another coffee and ask the server to verify your directions. Continue this at each subsequent Tim Hortons until you arrive at your destination.
Disclaimer: This joke was written during the author’s recent trip to Winnipeg, in which every single time he asked for directions the answer began with the phrase “walk toward the Tim Hortons”.