A Shift in Perception

For the last week I've been staying at a hotel, and each time I leave the elevator I turn left instead of right to go to my room. Every time. It got so bad that at one point I tried swiping my card on the wrong door before I realized that I needed to turn around and go the other direction. I even complained about it to my wife. "I have no clue why, but every time I get off the elevator I want to turn left!" I told her.

This morning I was standing at the window again, just looking out on the street, enjoying the cool California air. Then I noticed it. Looking down and to the right there was a ledge/overhang that I had assumed was the overhang above the front entrance. It wasn't. To the left there was an overhang above the front entrance.

This whole time my mental model had been that our room was to one side of the lobby and the main entrance, because I incorrectly mapped the ledge and sidewalk to my right as the one belonging to the main entrance. But I wasn't paying close enough attention - I saw the car in front of the main entrance but it never clicked with me where our room actually was. That's why I was getting off the elevator and turning in the wrong direction. I had to rewrite some of my neural pathways to change my mind. I could feel the mental shift as I oriented myself with reality. So now I'm sure it will be easy to remember which way to get off the elevator.

Of course it happened on the day we're leaving.