In mid-October, I was heading to New Jersey via northern Virginia. I would travel halfway and stop at my sister’s house. The next day I would ride with her to New Jersey.

Being the detailed person she is, she gave me specific written instructions on how to get to her house. It reminded me of the days of MapQuest. Great idea. Instructions written line by line. The problem was you couldn’t read those lines while driving at 65 mph. That’s what happened.

I put my sister’s address in the GPS and left home. Unfortunately, I pressed the wrong “GO” button on my phone. I misunderstood the map thinking it was taking me through the mountains by way of I-81. It wasn’t. It had planned to take me on U.S. 29. I followed those directions perfectly. There came a point where I was to stay on Route 29, but the GPS told me to take I-40 which would lead me to I-95. I think I remember seeing something about Route 29, so I thought I was going in the correct direction.

As we continued to drive, I saw less and less of Route 29 and more and more of 95. At a point, we were going through Richmond. We were on I-95. That was the last road I wanted to travel on. In fact, the last time I drove it was when I first arrived in Charlotte in 1996. I was heading back to spend the weekend with my family who was in northern Virginia. At 10 p.m., my tire blew out on I-95. It was pitch black. I could barely see, the spare tire needed air and I managed to hobble to a gas station to add air. The next day, I found myself in a Price Club (remember that store) getting four new tires.

I had no idea where I was. I didn’t want to go into Washington D.C. Road signs kept telling me how many miles I had to go to get to our nation’s capital. I worked there for three years. I never wanted to go back.

I called my sister in desperation. Classic Italian drama, “It’s the end of the world and I will end up in DC, never to be seen again.” I think she wanted to slap me because she said to take a certain road. It was 10 miles ahead. It was 50 miles before DC. We were finally off the Interstate and enjoying the beautiful Virginia countryside. 

Life happens. In the world of addiction that I move in every day, we have to teach the Charlotte Rescue Mission residents to “learn to live life on life’s terms.” 

In spite of missing my exit, I was grateful. Because the entire trip was on interstates, there were no stoplights I had to contend with. Traffic moved along quickly and only slowed down briefly as we came near Richmond. I was able to use the cruise control rather than stop every few miles for a light. Other drivers weren’t entering the highway from a hamburger fast food restaurant. There were on-ramps and off-ramps. While it was the last place I wanted to drive on, I was grateful. In a sense, it made the drive quite nice.

When I returned, I decided to take Route 29. It was nice to see the countryside. but it was a two-lane highway that stopped every few miles for a red light.

Each day you and I have options to determine how we will see what life throws at us. That choice, that response is ours to choose. 

I’ll be back in soon. Until then, live well my friend.


The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Visit for details. 


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