Do Americans get born with a built-in compass?

I’ve always loved TV & films. Watching a good film takes you away from reality and plonks you in another world. It may be a slightly strange world where nobody goes to the lavatory, important messages on a computer come with a ‘beep’ and James Bond never suffers from erectile dysfunction – but that’s why we go there.

We can all watch a film, see something which clashes with our own reality and say “Yeah right, like that would actually happen!” I do it all the time when I see anything computer-related in the story line.

“Dammit, he’s used ultra-grade encryption on the arming mechanism!”
“Can you hack in to it?”
“Maybe, give me 10 minutes!”
“We ain’t got 10 minutes – you’ve got 2 minutes tops….”
“OK, OK I’m on it…..”

Oh really?! Anyone who has forgotten their Windows logon password would beg to argue with that time estimate.

One thing that has puzzled me for many years is the apparent familiarity that people in the USA seem to have with directions. We’ve all heard it, any car chase demonstrates it –

“He’s escaped and is headed north east on Franklin….”

Somehow, the people in pursuit seem to know exactly where to go and frankly this has baffled me for a number of years. Given that a lot of the people I’ve come in to contact with Stateside through the course of my work, demonstrate the same intellectual capacity as a nest of tables, how the hell do they understand compass points at the drop of a hat? Speaking for myself, I rarely know what bloody day it is never mind what direction I’m going. So, for any scene where a Brit may be part of the on-screen team, allow me to introduce a little reality……

“OK. listen up people. The bad guys are gonna be knocking on the door any minute. Clint I want you covering the north corner…”
“Killer, I want you to take the south east…”
“On it”
“English dude – you diffuse that goddamn bomb on the north west corner…”
“Right. Hang on. North west? Let me think, where does the sun rise? Is it over there? OK. ‘It rises in the east and sets in the west’ so that means it rises over there and sets (moves his arm in a 180 degree arc) over there. Right, that’s east and that’s west which means, oh hang on ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat….’ Ah right, north west must be over there? Hang on, I beg to differ but that’s not strictly north west is it. No, by my reckoning and thinking back to the shipping forecasts I’ve heard on the radio, what you’re referring to is actually west-north-west isn’t it? Or do you mean a different corner?”
“Just do it English dude or this place is going to get blown sky hi…..” BOOM!