How to Lose Yourself in Atlanta

I’m from the North, but on my one excursion through Atlanta I was surprised to have successfully made it all the way from one end of the city to the other without getting undeniably lost, or completely insane. That city has the most devilishly devised pattern of streets I have ever seen. It is not bad enough that Atlanta’s streets twist and turn like a pretzel baked by a mad-man, but they also enjoy periodic name changes which are designed to help you think you have either left the street you are supposed to be on, or have lost your mind. I was fairly white knuckled when I finally emerged from down-town Atlanta, and made a personal vow to never again in life drive a car through that particular city, or ever be a pedestrian there either.

So far, I have kept that promise and have never had to return to Atlanta but knowing my luck, if I ever did drive through that city again, it would be on the one day of the year when all the streets were detoured thanks to construction. That’s always a happy, stress-reducing turn of events. Of course, with the streets laid out the way they are, I probably wouldn’t even notice the difference.

I have driven through different big cities, Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, plus a few in Canada, but I have never in all my life, seen a city as confusing to drive in as Atlanta is. Now if you happen to be a native of the city in question, then this article is probably pretty silly to you, because you’re used to the craziness of your home town. Perhaps you even like it there and would not live elsewhere. Perhaps you also enjoy sticking fish hooks in your nostrils and pins in your lips.

I’m not particularly fond of long-distance driving myself, and usually try to leave that chore to someone who likes driving, but I did drive through Atlanta and truly, the one thing I remember best about that journey is peeling my really white knuckles from the steering wheel afterward. It’s a wonder I didn’t bend the wheel in half under all that pressure. I was shaking like a leaf and trying to remember how to breathe again. I still get short of breath even now when I think about it.

I’m not real fond of big cities either, being something of a country bumpkin, and heavy traffic makes me have panic attacks, but I can survive just about anything as long as it doesn’t take me to that certain really big city in Georgia that was apparently designed by a blind guy on drugs. Anything is better than that. I’d willingly spend a year and a half in the Chicago loop rather than do the Atlanta thing again.

So if you happen to catch sight of a little car moving at about five miles per hour with a person hunched over the steering wheel like she’s trying to launch herself from it, and being guided by four back seat drivers, in four different directions, that’s probably me you’re looking at, having another Atlanta flashback. Just pull over and get out of the way and you won’t get hurt.

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