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  • The higher-ups (my peers) in our company drop f-bombs all the time, so I'd had enough of them and decided to go on an journey, escaping the current situation.
  • First, I headed south-east, and the first place I stopped at was full of surprises.
  • I continued on south-east, then decided to go east several miles during which time I experienced thefts on multiple separate occasions. As it turned out later, what I was wearing then was attracting thieves.
  • Trying to change my luck, I changed direction and headed north-east. I played some one-armed bandits there, and hit the jackpot.
  • After leaving the casino, I headed east and decided to bet on horse racing, where my money multiplied.
  • Then I continued east, and for some reason, I got this sudden feeling that something new might start up, and it did! But they say that everything that has a beginning has an ending, and what promised to be a new beginning for me came to an abrupt end in just a mile.
  • After pulling myself together, I drove southeastward and parked my car for a while.
  • After a bit of a rest, I headed north-east, and then got on the eastbound highway. To stave off sleepiness, my wife riding shotgun started asking me simple math questions.
  • Continuing eastbound, we suddenly began to lose consciousness, not from drowsiness but rather due to some external force that we had no control over. Our memory of the entire journey up to that point was completely erased. Today I can share this story with you thanks to the diary I kept during the trip. Keeping records has saved the day.

Q. Where did I travel? And why do you think so?

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  • $\begingroup$ Whether you can interpret the 3rd clue correctly or not will mean the difference between staying on the right track and getting further and further off the beaten path. As long as you're following the right path, all the clues will fit together naturally. If some of your reasoning sound "forced", then it's probably because you have taken a wrong turn somewhere. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 19 '16 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't mind an extra hint on clue 3. I've been thinking about it and staring at the "map" for hours now with no progress. Working backwards from the end helps, and the first two clues are pretty straightforward once you start working from humn's answer, but clue 3 (and sort of 4) just baffles me. $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 20 '16 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Todd Wilcox Hi. Please refer to my additional comments in Gareth McCaughan's Answer. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 20 '16 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ You experienced several thefts. For each theft, was another one of the same thing stolen? Or were different things stolen each time? $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 20 '16 at 16:20
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Some adjustments to humn's story, which with one major exception produce a very good fit:

The higher-ups (my peers) in our company drop f-bombs all the time, so I'd had enough of them and decided to go on an journey, escaping the current situation.

Depart from Escape key, on same row as F (function) keys.

First, I headed south-east, and the first place I stopped at was full of surprises.

! (shift-1).

I continued on south-east, then decided to go east several miles during which time I experienced thefts on multiple separate occasions. As it turned out later, what I was wearing then was attracting thieves.

In view of the next stop, this must be QWERTY (or maybe ASDFG or ZXCV). I don't yet understand why. Here's one possibility I don't like much: QWERTY is a famously bad password so if "wearing" can mean "using as password for protection" and "theft" can mean "compromise of computer account" -- and if we don't distinguish between "what I was wearing" and "what route I was travelling" -- then that kinda-sorta fits, but it seems an awful stretch. (It fits questioner's hints better than it does the original clue.)

Trying to change my luck, I changed direction and headed north-east. I played some one-armed bandits there, and hit the jackpot.

I think this must be 7 because lots of slot machines have a ("lucky", I guess) 7 as one of the symbols they use. And perhaps "and hit the jackpot" is pointing at the & on the same key. (At humn's request in comments, I note that I wondered briefly whether it might be 6/^ because the caret is sometimes used as an insertion mark, and one inserts things into a slot machine when playing it.)

After leaving the casino, I headed east and decided to bet on horse racing, where my money multiplied.

* (shift-8). There might possibly be an allusion to % (shift-5) here -- probabilities! -- but I don't think that's intended.

Then I continued east, and for some reason, I got this sudden feeling that something new might start up, and it did! But they say that everything that has a beginning has an ending, and what promised to be a new beginning for me came to an abrupt end in just a mile.

() (shift-9 and shift-0)

After pulling myself together, I drove southeastward and parked my car for a while.

P

After a bit of a rest, I headed north-east, and then got on the eastbound highway. To stave off sleepiness, my wife riding shotgun started asking me simple math questions.

+ and = (on same key). Possibly - as well, which is where the NE and E roads met.

Continuing eastbound, we suddenly began to lose consciousness, not from drowsiness but rather due to some external force that we had no control over. Our memory of the entire journey up to that point was completely erased. Today I can share this story with you thanks to the diary I kept during the trip. Keeping records has saved the day.

Backspace key deletes things.

(Although I think it likely that this is basically The Correct Answer, I hope humn ends up getting most of the rep for this question because I don't think I would ever in a million years have figured out what this was about. Also, his answer is much funnier than mine. So if you're reading this and inclined to accept or upvote it, go give humn's answer an upvote first.)

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To Gareth McCaughan: Ah, you're so close! All that remains is to figure out the allusions to the 3rd and 4th clues. I fully expected the 3rd clue to stump and lead most people astray. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 19 '16 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Huh. I thought I had a pretty good fit for #4. OK, more thought required... $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 19 '16 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ While at the races, why not treat the ponies to some [carrot]s? $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 19 '16 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ humn: Ingenious, but it sounds as if my mismatch is one step earlier than that: the thievery and the one-armed bandits. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 19 '16 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I took it that "mile" meant the obvious-in-context thing. It wasn't clear to me what could reasonably be counted as "several"; I agree that my answer as it currently stands is pushing it a bit. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 20 '16 at 15:00
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Road map courtesy of Wikipedia Motor Club: $ \require{begingroup}\begingroup \def \K #1{\small\boxed{\kern2mu \strut \tt {#1} \kern2mu}} \def \L #1{\K{~{#1}~}} \def \M #1{\L{{#1}\kern1mu}} \def \N #1{\L{\normalsize{#1}}} $


With our keymap in hand, let us let our fingers do the driving . . .

The higher-ups (my peers) in our company drop f-bombs all the time, so I'd had enough of them and decided to go on an journey, escaping the current situation.

  1. The higher-ups are the top row, which includes the F-mouthed $\L{F1}$ . . . $\K{F12}$ keys.
    Our road trip began at the left end of the row, with a hasty $\K{Esc}$ape.
    (“F-bombs” also evokes, but less appropriately, those other ! @  #  \$%^&$\bf*$ keys downstairs.)

First, I headed south-east, and the first place I stopped at was full of surprises.

  1. SE from $\K{Esc}$ is (surprise!) the $\L{!}$ key.

I continued on south-east, then decided to go east several miles during which time I experienced thefts on multiple separate occasions. As it turned out later, what I was wearing then was attracting thieves.

  1. On the next row down, heading E through neighborhoods crawling with $\L{[ \,}$s and $\L{\, ]}$s, who'd steal the very words right from your mouth in league with the Ellipsis Gang, we ran into $\K{Delete}$, which is often pressed into thievery with barely a second thought.
    Probably wouldn't've been so vulnerable had I, *blush*, worn more to cover my $\K{End}$.
    (Whoopsie, already lost sight of Gareth McCaughan's vehicle. This must be a detour. One of these days I'll learn to pay attention. Like so many drivers, though, I always act as if I never need any $\L{Fn}~\K{Help}$).

Trying to change my luck, I changed direction and headed north-east. I played some one-armed bandits there, and hit the jackpot.

  1. NE to $\K{PgUp}$, then pulled $\K{PgDown}$ on a slot-machine lever. Jackpot! What a keystroke of luck.   (Ah, the rest of our caravan typed a text saying they were Shifted far W of here, playing the $\L{\#}$s and making $\L{\$}$ by working the $\L{\scriptsize\sf \%}$ages $\,~\K{~\sf \&~}$ $~~\N{*} \kern1mu$ing their moolah.)

After leaving the casino, I headed east and decided to bet on horse racing, where my money multiplied.

  1. E to play the numbers (pad, with its $\N{*}$ multiply key) by calling my bookie.

Then I continued east, and for some reason, I got this sudden feeling that something new might start up, and it did! But they say that everything that has a beginning has an ending, and what promised to be a new beginning for me came to an abrupt end in just a mile.

  1. ("Something new," as in $\L{+}$ at the E margin of the number pad?)
    ("Abrupt end" of the keyboard?)
    (Collided with number pad's $\K{Enter}$ key and bounced all the way to the left end of the row?)

After pulling myself together, I drove southeastward and parked my car for a while.

  1. (Rescue-helicopter hop) to a parking $\M{space}$.
    (Aptly dubbed, by this puzzle's poser, a forced landing.)

After a bit of a rest, I headed north-east, and then got on the eastbound highway. To stave off sleepiness, my wife riding shotgun started asking me simple math questions.

  1. At the NE edge of $\M{space}$, as my foot pressed the Shift pedal, I was stirred by:
    “Soporous Sweetie, is two plus two $~\M{<}$ than four,   or $~~\M{>}$ than four $\L{?}\kern-2mu$ ”

Continuing eastbound, we suddenly began to lose consciousness, not from drowsiness but rather due to some external force that we had no control over. Our memory of the entire journey up to that point was completely erased. Today I can share this story with you thanks to the diary I kept during the trip. Keeping records has saved the day.

  1. Immediately E of $\L{?}$, we were $\K{Shift}$ed, S beyond our $\K{Ctrl}$, by a deus $\K{~\sf X~}$ machina, to the point where Ctrl+X erased everything.

Good thing the diary was really ... $\endgroup$

... my own keystroke logger that stole every key event along this blacktop ramble.

  There's that sign again: $\rlap{\raise8mu\underline{\kern9.1em}}\boxed{{\small\strut}\scriptsize\sf ~WATCH~OUT~FOR~EDITS~}$
  And from the shotgun seat: “Honeeey, can't we just pull over and call for roadside assistance?” 

Oh I could keep trying to sound like a competent driver until I'm blue in the tooth, but next time probably should just take the bus.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To humn: I'm really surprised you've got this far in such a short amount of time! The specific words and phrases that I chose to use subtly indicate which part of the "road map" each clue alludes to, as well as at which point you should change direction. Taking a wrong turn at a wrong place will most likely disrupt your train of thought. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 19 '16 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ Quick question, @Password-ProtectedKor, if you notice and don't mind: Do our road maps match closely enough? $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 19 '16 at 9:05
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    $\begingroup$ To humn: An astute question! As a Japanese living in Japan, I wasn't a hundred percent sure what an English version of the "road map" accurately looks like, compared to the one most commonly used in Japan. I'm glad to see that the road map you're basing your assumptions on has turned out to be constructed just like I imagined it to be. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 19 '16 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ To humn: First, I have to say you've taken quite the (amusing) scenic route, going much further and wider than expected! After leaving the land full of surprises, you should land on ~~~ instead of the location in your answer. Then go "several" miles eastward until what you're "wearing" becomes too "plain" and "dangerous" and starts to attract unwanted attention from a particular type of thieves. $\endgroup$ – Segwayinto Jun 20 '16 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for giving me a chance, @Password-Protected Kor, but after seeing that @Gareth McCaughan's answer is on the right path, I thought I'd just follow this tortured route to its silly conclusion, mainly for its alternate coincidence between parking and simple math $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 20 '16 at 15:40

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