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June 26, 2004

A Paean to Atlanta

Aside from one traffic jam in Durham, it was open roads and rain the rest of the way. I pulled into my garage a few minutes after 1 am. My SWG love stayed up to be sure I got home, then she went to bed. I hit the same couple of blackout areas on the road as I did going up to DC in January, so they do appear to be real gaps in the Verizon system, not just maintenance issues. There's a pretty long stretch between Durham and Petersburg, a short one just south of Charlotte, and a tiny blip down in the valley at the South Carolina-Georgia border, right before crossing the Hartwell bridge from the SC side.

I got up late morning and went to find a place for my emmission inspection, and driving out (laptop on the passenger seat and running, of course) immediately felt this huge shift of comfort. Atlanta is SO green. Everything is lush and gorgeous. DC is nice. DC has trees too. But the difference remains stark. My backyard is overgrown with hostas and day lillies. (The lawn maintenance service guys locked themselves out of the backyard.) Birds are singing. (And crows cawing too.)

Then, the guys at the garage were all polite, no, nice. Again, I find people in DC nice on the whole, but Atlanta people are nicer. I got a belt and air filter replaced, the oil changed, and inspection passed. I was told I probably need brake maintence. And I was out of there in about an hour.

From there I went to check my mailbox at Pakmail. Okay, I know the guys there a bit. We've stood around just shooting the breeze. But the greeting was like to a long lost brother! Then I went to the Birds Unlimited next door to stock up to refill my feeders. I had two nice ladies both trying to take care of me. From there it was Kroger to see if I could renew my tags there, and do a bit of shopping for staples for the weekend. I asked the ladies at customer service and they said Monday at 11am the tag office is open there. Then I wandered around trying to decide what to buy, since I don't want to stock the fridge with stuff that will spoil. Inside two minutes I had two different smiling Kroger employees come over and ask if I needed any help. I told both, "probably, but nothing you can help with, I think," and got laughs and "well, just let us know," and they left me alone to ponder the choices. Then, after I grabbed a case of Diet Coke, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (not French!), and a frozen dinner, I got in a shortish line behind a couple of shopping carts (no express lanes were open) and one of the customer service ladies came over and told me she'd check me out.

I know, I know, I'm going on and on. It did! I'd decided on a sub for lunch, so I popped into Subway a few shops down from Kroger. I figured there might be a line since it was lunchtime, so I took in Carnage and Culture, Victor Davis Hanson's latest. The young guy who took my order immediately asked about it and whether I was a historian. I told him I was an English major who reads a lot of history, because history is context for literature. The guy working next to him stopped, looked up at me and grinned and said "you English majors are my arch enemies." He was a philosophy major. So we ended up chatting a while about the evils of trying to become a professor. Luckily, there was no line behind me.

Okay, maybe it's me. Maybe I'm so happy to be in Altanta that I'm exuding some sort of a subliminal glow that is drawing the attention of nice people, that is somehow requiring that they offer help or strike up conversations, but I don't think so. I'm a curmudgeon. I doubt I was smiling, though I probably wasn't frowning. I need a haircut. I shaved sloppily with an old razor. I was wearing cargo shorts (navy) and a battered old denim longsleeved shirt, and sandals. Okay, maybe that makes me more accessible, but even that seems unlikely. I am prone to wrinkled khakis and denim shirts, with sandals or casual shoes, and a good haircut is something I have about one month of the year. I don't see any significant difference today.

Nah, it's just Atlanta. Best darned city in this country, which also happens to be the best darned country in the world. Makes me wish the yard crew were here today so I could go out and welcome them to America and to Atlanta. I know they're Latinos. The super switches to Spanish on the phone while asking how they're supposed to get into the back yard. I'd offer them all a drink: Diet Coke, Diet Coke, or Diet Coke. Oh yeah, there's water too.

God, bless America! And if you have time, God, bless Atlanta a little extra too. This city has more than it's share of righteous people.

Now how do I get a consulting gig here that pays as well as what I'm making in DC... I want to come home!

Posted by dan at June 26, 2004 02:54 PM | TrackBack
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