Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Red light

Hard to believe, but we’ve been in the Lansing area for six years now. In that time, I have become very accustomed to driving without stopping. It has been a complete and utter joy to get in the car and actually get where I’m going without riding the brakes the entire time. I can go for miles before seeing a stop light. And I can go for many, many more before hitting anything that looks like the traffic jams I’ve seen in Atlanta. So when I come upon a car travelling in the left lane barely going the speed limit, I go a little nuts. Okay, a lot nuts. Because I cannot understand why anyone would drive in the passing lane without going fast enough to actually pass anyone.  People, the road in front of you is wide open! The speed limit in most places is 70 mph – use that gas pedal!

The joys of driving on 69, 96 and 127 seemed a distant memory last Friday afternoon, though, when I was sitting in traffic in downtown Atlanta.  Amy and I flew into the city of the Peach, picked up our rental car and hit 78/85 North at 2:30 pm. I was concerned about the traffic, but things looked decent as we approached Turner Field.  All seven lanes were full but moving. As soon as I thought we might be okay, a sea of red brake lights appeared in front of me, and a trip that should have taken 45 minutes lasted 90.

I finally got to my parents’ house, unloaded the car then hopped back in the car to head over to my in-laws’ house (why I didn't just go their first remains a mystery). A trip that should have taken 30 minutes (29 according to MapQuest) took an hour. My parents live 18 miles from my in-laws and it took me a stinkin’ hour to make that trek.

Atlanta, I love you, but I cannot live with you again. I don’t know how all my fellow north Atlanta friends live like that!

Actually, I do. Because I lived like that for 35 years. And the reason is because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know there was a place with 70 mph speed limits and enough space to actually go 70 mph. I didn’t know there was a place where cruise control could be used on a daily basis.  I didn’t know there was a place with enough roads to fit the population.

Of course, I didn’t know there was a place I’d be frozen for four months out of the year, either…

I love going home and visiting my friends and family. But I do not like going home and driving in that mess of cars. It’s no surprise to me that when I drive here I love it so.

And I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot in traffic school next month when I go to make sure the points I got on my my ticket don’t get reported to State Farm. I just wish the officer had understood what it’s like to have been cooped up for years, only to find wide open pavement in front of me and no brake lights for miles.

(In my defense, I was getting off 127 S - 70 mph - onto Trowbridge - 30 mph. I was slowing down. Just not fast enough for Mr. Motorcycle Policeman. Such a wonderful family moment on the way to church...)