Why This Directionally-Challenged Expat in Amsterdam Needs a Navigate Jacket

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I’m new to Amsterdam, I’ll admit. After nearly a year here I still have trouble blending in, but especially when biking. Coming from San Francisco I was thrilled with the idea of biking on flat land, as opposed to the oftentimes steep hills of San Fran. However, what I didn’t foresee was the often circuitous routes in Amsterdam, which are very un-grid-like, and difficult to navigate.

Thus, I have become “that girl” on the bike with the giant Samsung Galaxy Note in hand, swerving sometimes as I try to navigate my way through narrow canals, and complex routes. This method had been working for me, even despite the annoyance of continually juggling a mobile phone, while balancing on a bike. However, a friend suggested to me, “Why don’t you just turn on navigation, and stick in your earphones?” I thought this plan was rather ingenious, so I decided to try it out. Unfortunately for me, I decided to test this new method on a rainy day when I had scheduled an important meeting.

In Amsterdam the weather is like a perpetual nagging friend. Forget about good hair days, and on rainy days, forget about makeup altogether. On this particular day, it was indeed raining, and I had a long way to bike from one end of the city to the other. I wouldn’t say I left the house looking frumpy, but after about 5 minutes of biking in the pouring rain, I was beginning to look like a drowned rat. I had turned on some Beyonce in the background of my navigation to pump me up a bit thinking, “Ok, so my hair is completely wet, and my makeup is destroyed, but I am a powerful woman. I will rock this meeting!” Just in the midst of my self-pep-talk, that’s when it happened.

I must have been groovin too hard on Beyonce when I hit a pebble in the road, and my insanely large Galaxy Note went hurling through the air, right out of my jacket pocket. I watched in seeming slow-motion as the mobile phone somersaulted into the wet street. Of course, it landed directly in an enormous puddle of rainwater. I skidded to the side, and parked my bike to go retrieve my phone, which now lay in multiple components. Even more shockingly, as I walked the few feet to retrieve it, more bikers ran over my mobile, completely oblivious to it, nearly submerged in the puddle.

After hurriedly putting it back together, and attempting to turn it on, I realized my attempts were futile. The phone was inundated with water, and totally blank. After the obvious first thought of, “Oh God, now I have to buy a new cell phone!”,  I realized, “How am I going to get to this meeting?!”

Directions are not my forte. Having grown up in rural Tennessee, we’d often give directions like, “Past that big oak tree” or “After the blue house”. Needless to say, I was in quite a pickle after the loss of my GPS navigation. I thought I’d wing it, and asked various locals the way to nearby landmarks. But, it was hopeless. First of all, you really can’t rely on human beings to give adequate directions these days. I must have gone in circles for over an hour. And secondly, there is really nothing quite like being lost in an unfamiliar city, on a bike, in the rain. One hour and a half later I arrived to my meeting drenched, and quite out of steam. I’d like to think I still rocked the meeting, but there’s nothing like timeliness to really seal a deal.

Moral of the story: human society is more international than ever. We relocate all over the globe, and have to pivot quickly to make it. Part of this process includes navigating new cities, and potentially using different forms of transportation like biking. We’re also incredibly reliant on technology to help us through these new learning situations. And when technology fails, it can result in disastrous consequences. A Navigate Jacket could have saved me in this situation, and would be useful to me on a daily basis. I can’t imagine being able to learn the pathways of a city without having to constantly check a mobile device, or listen to a bizarre animatronic navigation voice over headphones. The Navigate Jacket would allow me to learn the ropes of Amsterdam’s streets in a natural, and stylish way. I can’t wait for the Navigate Jacket to make its way to Amsterdam! Best of luck!