“What, that way?” he said pointing back over his shoulder.
“Is that the way you came?”
“Oh. Well, then, go down the street to your left and when you get to the house with the bad paint job…”
He held up his hand. “Wait, wait. Do I go back the way I came, back that’away, or do I take a left?”
“Either works. You’ll see the house with the bad paint job either way you go.”
“I don’t remember seeing a house with a bad paint job.”
“No? Well, there’s no accounting for taste, I guess, though how you made it here I’ll never know.”
“I wasn’t coming here. I’m going to the station.”
“Well, you certainly wouldn’t have made it here without seeing the house with the bad paint job.”
He shook his head, completely confused. “Will I get to the station if I go back the way I came, or if I go to the left?”
“Certainly. It’s past the house with…”
He interrupted, finishing her sentence, “…with the bad paint job. Alright, alright. What does this house look like?”
“What does it look like? You really don’t know? I mean, I can’t help you if you don’t know what a house with a bad paint job looks like.”
“OK, OK, just…please…can you tell me how to get to the station? Forget about the house.”
“Forget about it?! Without it you’ll be totally lost!”
The man sighed. He told the woman he was already lost, thanked her for her time, and walked back out to the street. He looked one way and then the other, and then straight ahead down the street from where he had come. He turned right and started walking.
“You won’t find your way there going that way!” the woman called out.
He chuckled and called back, “I suppose all the houses this way have great paint jobs?”
“Yes!” she yelled back out to him. “It’s a dead end.”
He stopped, thought a moment, and then walked back to the woman. “I appreciate your help, I do, but I just want to get to the station. Now, do I go back the way I came or not?”
“As I said, yes, you can…”
“And when I see the house…”
“Yes, yes, yes…bad paint…”
“Then go left. Or go left and then straight.”
He gave her a sarcastic smile. “Straight, left or left, straight. Got it. And then?”
“And, that’s it.”
“The station! You’ll be at the station.”
“I walked a long time on that street before I got here,” he said furiously pointing behind him, “and not only did I not see the station, I didn’t see anywhere to turn.”
“I can’t do anything about that. But if you go back that way, you’ll see to go left at that house.”
“Is there a path or something?”
“I suppose so. Yes.”
“And if I go left, I just stay on that street and go straight?”
“Sounds ‘bout right.” And with that, the woman went back inside her house and shut the door, leaving the man standing on her stoop.
He stared at the woman’s door for a long while. Not knowing what else to do, he sat down on the stoop steps. Looking down the street from where he came, and then to his left, and again to his right, he wondered in all his life if he had ever really seen a house with a bad paint job. He couldn’t think of one. He wondered what a bad paint job on a house truly looked like. He’d probably never know.
also in response to WPDP Groupthink