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It really wasn't my fault this time

September 15, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

I was somewhere in Westmoreland County or maybe Fayette County. I wasn't sure. It was 10:30 p.m. on a school night, and I had a car full of cranky Girl Scouts (plus one blissfully sleeping son).

It began like this: We spent the day in Pittsburgh. I've been there many times for a variety of reasons and have successfully driven myself to and from the city dozens of times without incident.

The Little Professor, with his affinity for all things electronic, works the navigational/GPS app on my phone like a whiz. If I am driving in an unfamiliar area, I toss the phone at him with the command "navigate me."

However, when it came time to go home, Leader's Daughter wanted to try her hand at it. OK, no problem.

She lasted all of 30 seconds.

"Turn left here," she announced.

It was getting dark, but not dark enough to hide the blood-red sign announcing "wrong way."

"That is a one-way street, going the other way," I said, swerving through the intersection, avoiding head-on collsions and, hopefully, the Pittsburgh Police, who would probably think I was driving drunk. "You are officially stripped of navigation duties."

Leader was appointed navigator next.

"Turn left here," Leader said.

I could, so I did.

"What's the next turn?" I was mired in a pack of babushkas. I had one to my right, one right behind me, and one in front of me. Scarf-wrapped heads barely peeked over the dashboards of Lincolns and Cadilliacs.

"Right here! Right here! Turn right!"

I eyeballed the two-and-a-half tons of steel that probably rolled off the assembly line back when that model was still made in Detroit. It was directly to my right. There was another directly off my stern. I watched the exit to U.S. Route 22 fall behind us.

"That's OK," I assured my passengers. "I'll just turn around when we get a chance."

I did pull off, but the highway was divided.

"There will be an exit coming up."

Nope. Only county roads, and, already out of my element - not lost - I wasn't taking that chance.

"Well, it's got to come out somewhere."

Fatal last words.

After the third time I had to pull over and re-route, Leader confessed she didn't know how to scroll through the directions. I love her, but this confession would have been much more useful much earlier in the trip.

I had hopscotched the Monongahela several times, and a mutiny was brewing in the backseat as scouts up past their bedtimes started complaining.

I had to call the LSH and let him know we were still alive.

"I'll be home in 45 minutes."

"You said you were leaving an hour and a half ago."


"Is something wrong?"

"No. I'll be home in 45 minutes."

I hastily got off the phone, and told the childern that they were, under no condition, to tell their father that I had gotten lost. "It's an adventure! What happens on a scout trip stays on the scout trip!"

It was more like an hour and 15 mintues, but we made it, and I finally, gratefully crawled into bed.

The next morning, the LSH asked, "do I need to get gas?"

I suspected he suspected something, but decided to play it cool. "No. There's half a tank left." I hoped he thought driving around downtown Pittsburgh would burn a quarter tank.

"You know, it doesn't take almost three hours to drive home from Pittsburgh. Did you run into some trouble?"

"We had to stop a couple times. Gas stations." It wasn't a lie. I had stopped. I couldn't drive and work the phone at the same time.

"You know, after you called me ... "


"Somehow you managed to call me right back. I heard your entire conversation."

I froze. "What conversation?"

"That you were lost and not to tell me or (Leader's husband)."

So we suck at stealthiness. We're Girl Scout leaders, not ninjas.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at

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