Nick Cave, disorientation, and EXIF data

This is a tale of woe — spawned from a navigational “disability” — and redemption via technology. It has very little point, but I feel like documenting it. Take it as you will.

Last night I went to the Nick Cave concert in Minneapolis. My friend Ben and I made the two-hour drive in the TT early in the afternoon so we could grab a stress-free dinner and deal with will-call lines before the 7:30 doors. We drove past the venue (State Theater) and turned into the first convenient parking ramp we found. As I always do, I snapped a picture of the nearest column marker in the parking ramp so we’d be able to locate the car again easily.

We wandered down to Nicollet Mall and looked for a restaurant that wasn’t already packed on a Saturday evening. After a few trips back and forth and some Yelping, we ended up at the News Room and had a great meal (and a couple of scotches). Despite knowing the area pretty well (I used to live there), we took some wrong turns after dinner and got thoroughly lost before running into a friend who got us back on track.

I should explain the directional confusion. I have a complete inability to picture spatial coordinates. Once I learn some landmarks and do some rote memorization, I can find my way around familiar areas, but taking a new route means the landmarks get out of order and I’m as good as lost. In my small town of Winona (population 25,000), I can pull into a driveway, and when I pull back out I’m completely disoriented. It turned out that Ben shared my orientation disability.

We got to the show in plenty of time, though, and watched Warpaint open. I feel like the sound and lighting didn’t do them justice, as I looked them up on Spotify afterward and enjoyed their music much more than I did in the theater. There was a 30-minute break between the opener and the headliner, which was annoying to me, but Nick Cave was worth the wait. The set was awesome, and he’s a great performer.

As the set came to a close I realized that my evening medications were in the trunk of my car. Missing my meds means I get very dizzy and have trouble functioning, so we decided to beeline for the car right after the encore. It was about then that it dawned on both of us that we didn’t know which lot we had parked in. There are about 15 lots within the 10-block radius we were wandering, and neither of us could piece together the events that had led us to the lot we chose.

Meanwhile, my phone’s battery has been getting to a point where I get about an hour out of a full charge, so I’ve been carrying a Dark Energy Resevoir battery with me. I’d left it in the car as well, so after a few photos during the set and some social communication, my battery was in the red as we left the venue.

We started trying to logically put together the location of the lot as I got dizzier and more disoriented. My phone quickly died and we were left to our severely disabled senses of memory and direction alone. We didn’t fare well. After two hours of wandering from ramp to ramp, we were thirsty and tired, and to say I was irritable would be a serious understatement. Ben remained upbeat, mostly to counteract my gloomy demeanor, I think.

Eventually, we folded and walked to the Marriott hotel, where we dropped the conceirge a tip and asked to recharge our phones. We sat at the bar and drank as much water as the bizzarely unattentive bartender would bring us after finally being able to buy Ben a beer. As we waited for the phones to charge up a bit, it dawned on me that the photo I’d taken of the column in the ramp should have geolocation EXIF data.

As soon as the phone was charged I jumped on the App Store and downloaded the first free app that claimed to map the EXIF data. ExifWizard was the one I ended up with, and within seconds I had a pin on a map that did, in fact, lead us straight to the car. $6 later we were on the road, the iPhone plugged in and Siri guiding us back to the highway home.

Next time I’ll remember to write down the ramp address, obviously. Maybe if I weren’t so dependent on the iPhone I would pay better attention to the details (like WHERE THE RAMP WAS), but I’m grateful for the elegant solution that ultimately evolved. I just wish it hadn’t taken over two hours to get there…

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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