Like the vast majority of males, your engineer has an unerring sense of direction.
Try to lose him on a street corner, or put him in an airport or shopping mall anywhere in the world, and give him a map, and, unfortunately for you, he’s likely to quickly figure out where he is and how to get to wherever he wants to be. BUT, as is typically the case, your engineer carries this typical male behavior to its logical (at least in his mind) conclusion!
While he’s orienting himself to the map and finding his current location, your engineer has an opportunity to assess the overall layout of the city or airport or mall, or wherever it is that you’ve tried to strand him in this (not-so-hypothetical) example. In all likelihood, he’s figured out 5 or 10 improvements to the layout that would make it easier for people to quickly move around. Surely any supportive spouse (and that’s you, isn’t it?) would have no issue with this behavior – at least so far!
Ignoring the fact that most city centers, malls, airports, etc don’t want the people in the streets, mall or airport to be able to get through the space quickly (otherwise why would there be an Ikea anywhere in the world), your engineer is likely to go looking for an authority figure to explain how his concerns could and should (he might even use the word MUST from time to time for a bit of emphasis) be quickly addressed.
Assistant Deputy City Planners just love to be told how the city could be improved for vehicle traffic – especially coming from a less than fully qualified person who is largely unfamiliar with local issues.
Mall General Managers are even more impressed! After all, the General Manager doesn’t work for anyone who has to be re-elected every few years, so he or she can afford to be impatient with the jerk in front of their desk who is totally wasting their time!
Fear not! Your engineer will continue to beat his head against the dispassionate manager or bureaucrat, even to the point of believing that the bureaucrat is happy to be involved with such an informed person in a pleasant conversation across the desk or on the phone.
At some point in time, your engineer’s brain will slowly hatch an idea which emerges from the deep, dark, back recesses of his brain. He will have to confront a critical question – “Hey, am I solving the right problem here?”
Your engineer has just realized that there are two problems to be addressed at the same time! For those unaccustomed to thinking in terms of problems, a quick recap. The two problems are
• fixing the transportation problems of this particular corner of the world, and
• getting to some pre-determined location in time to meet you, or possibly some other person who might actually pretend to care that the engineer has arrived at all, much less at the previously scheduled time!
This is the dreaded Dual Problem Conundrum.
For the weak minded engineer this conundrum can drive a massive wedge deep into his psyche – potentially leading to a career as a janitor. If such a breakdown happens, your engineer will be a wee bit delayed in arriving at the meeting point.
Don’t worry if he doesn’t show up – which after all was the objective of the exercise, wasn’t it! You can always find your engineer at the local psychiatric hospital – once you’ve had a few days to yourself!