Lost in Texas
Date Published: 16 February 2009
Last year Brendan and I had the privilege of attending Jeffrey Palermo's agile bootcamp, put on by HeadSpring Systems in Austin, Texas. It's a great class and Jeffrey is an excellent instructor. After the class, Jeffrey invited us to dinner, and being the high tech folk that we are, he texted us the details of the restaurant. For whatever reason my phone wasn't receiving, but Brendan got the message, and we had a GPS, so we figured we were all set. I've forgotten the actual restaurant and address, but it looked something like this:
We hopped in our rental car, pulled up the GPS, and dutifully plugged in the Ranch Road address and 12345 street number, but could not find the address (and the nearest places it was giving us were quite a bit further than we cared to drive). So we did a search for the restaurant name and headed for the nearest one (which turned out to be the wrong one, and so dinner ended up being delayed, but in the end we did manage to meet).
Looking back, it's easy to see that we had discarded some information from the address that we hadn't thought important to the navigation. See, in Ohio there are Ranch Roads but that is the name of the road. It's like Main Street. And if I tell you to meet me at 12345 Main Street 650, you're going to be looking for 12345 Main Street first, and then maybe there's a suite number, or apartment number, or building number in the complex that the 650 references. But you certainly aren't going to use the 650 as part of your navigation.
However, in Texas, there are apparently a variety of roads named after their former uses, including Ranch Roads, Ranch To Market Roads, Farm To Market Roads, and for all I know Ranch To Market By Way Of The Farm Because The Bridge Is Out Roads. And since there are so many of these roads, they're numbered. Just like State Routes that pretty much every state (including Texas) has (for instance, Lake Quincy Media's address is on State Route 43). Everyone in Texas knows that Ranch Road 650 is a very different road from Ranch Road 120 or whatever, and that it certainly isn't complete to tell someone you need to go to simply "Ranch Road." (In Ohio, we do have State Roads, so it's possible someone trying to get to State Route 43 would end up going to State Road, but I think State Routes are far more widely understood than Ranch Roads).
Anyway, it was an embarrassing moment for us visitors to Texas. Texas, by way of closing, was very nice, friendly, and had excellent food – I'll be happy to travel there again, this time armed with a better understanding of some of the street names (and signs).
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.