Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nancy Drew and the Vanishing Signs

I am, by definition, a Southerner.  I was born and raised in Louisiana, came of age in Arkansas.  I have the accent and everything.  I love sweet tea and ceiling fans and festivals named after whatever random critter/crop/nickname you can think of.  But I recently relocated far away from my home, and as such have been abusing the hospitality of some of my very good friends.

Now, I have always been of the opinion that having houseguests is a lot like having a large parasite attached to your skull:

With two major differences: you can get rid of a parasite with medications, and houseguests usually smell better.  (Although as I can unfortunately tell you from experience, this is not always the case.)

I've been trying to keep to myself as to stay out of the hair of these generous people who have so graciously agreed to let me invade their lives for a while.  In fact, some days I think I hide away too well.  These are the days I get text messages like this:

Host Friend has been so great to me, but I think I baffle him.  He gets very agitated when I tell him that I don't have plans for my days off.  Granted, I imagine his brain looks a little something like this:

So naturally, my lack of planning is something he doesn't seem to understand.  I'm beginning to think that I may give him an ulcer or something by the time I leave by virtue of my seeming refusal to plan anything more than a few hours in advance.

The other thing I'm dealing with for the first time in my life is traffic.  Now, where I come from, a traffic jam is caused by a cow in the middle of the road or a large piece of agricultural equipment is being moved up the highway at top speed (4 MPH).  Our highways are at most three lanes going each way, and most aren't even that big.  Speed limits range from 40-70 MPH and are strictly enforced.  Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.  Sure, you'll get pulled over for speeding, but generally once the cop reads your ID and realizes that he knows a) you or b) your mama, he'll generally let you off with a warning.

There are more people in this strange new city than are in the entire state of Arkansas.  Which means that when I commute into the city, I'm driving mile for mile with more people than live in my entire town back home.  And while the posted speed limit is like 55, the traffic is moving at 80, and even going that speed, I routinely get passed by state troopers.

The other thing I've noticed is that down south you see this:
And it is repeated about nine times before any lane of traffic ends.  Whereas up here, the lane just mysteriously vanishes with little to no warning.  Maybe it's the whole Southern hospitality thing, but I really don't think it would kill anyone to put up a sign or something, instead of leaving it unmarked and watching the cars veer and swerve suddenly when the lane ends abruptly.  Or maybe it's a vast conspiracy by whoever it is that gets paid to clean up the mess when someone wrecks on the highway.

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