Thursday, September 16, 2004
In my opinion the best directions to get are from someone who is not from that area, this is because they give directions based on things as they currently are, not as they used to be...and usually they know the names of streets and highways verses vague landmarks that most likely won't be meaningful to you at all. This is important for a variety of reasons...time, accuracy, and patience being just a few of them!!
Take for instance, the time a few years back when I had recently moved to Alabama from Georgia. I had been working hard and had not had a chance to do much exploring, indulging in rambling around the back roads. At the time I lived in Port of Birmingham, or Birmingport, or as the locals called it Four Corners (due to the fact that the nearby intersection had the only blinking red light for twenty miles in either direction). Four Corners consisted of a convenience store, with two regular gas pumps, two diesel pumps, and a dinette (inside the store) that served the local coal workers a meat and three lunch special and made the most incredibly delicious biscuit sandwiches I ever had the privilege to taste. Across from the store was an empty lot. Caddy-cornered from the store was garage, with two gas pumps. There had been a produce stand on the fourth corner, but apparently folks grew their own and did not need an overpriced mart that only sold local foodstuff anyway; so the defunct shell stood empty, untreated plywood weathered and warped.
I was inside the dinette, seated in a booth, finishing my chicken, greens, creamed potatoes, black-eyed peas, and cornbread trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my unexpected day off. Well, I thought, it's been awhile since I saw a movie and there was one I did want to see, so I decided that was what I wanted to do.
Now, I coulda (and most likely shoulda) drove down 269 through Espy, hopping on 20/59, connecting to 65, and getting off at the appropriate exit for the Galleria. But, I do not particularly care for Espy, for the malfunction-junction of the connecting highways, nor do I like tons of traffic. So I thought I'd ask for directions for some back way, shorter, more pleasant.
This is the answer I got when I asked Dawn (the waitress/cashier/stocker/diesel mechanic) for directions: well lessee, you go up this here road that runs right out here, up over that hill, and then you'll see a dirt road, don't take that one...keep going, and the road kinda curves to the right, but you'll wanna take that road to the left there, k? an' then ya jes gooooo ooooh lessee 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 miles down that way til ya get to where the Lambert's got that big ol tree, n just past that ya wanna take that left and go on down, turn where Flo's Flowers used ta be and then you go straight on in ta Bessemer then I think it's the, hold on now, JONNY, JOOOONNNNEEEE, this here girl wants ta know how to get to the shopping mall out there, that new one.....(at which point Jonny yells back some long set of garbled directions around his wad of chew, or snuff, or some such tobacco product that comes in a pouch--he's the cook and usually doesn't stray to far from the kitchen, which is a good thing on reflection, because I am squeamish when it comes to things in my food that shouldn't be there, and sometimes my overactive imagination strays, like now) Dawn agrees with him, rolling her eyes at me in camaraderie, uhuh, yeap, uhuh, ok, yeah, and then you go up that there road til, HOW MANY LIGHTS DO YA GO, (this time I understood his reply, which was...) Ohhhh, 2 or 3, I think past that first one by the old school...Right, Dawn says, and then you just go about 5 miles, can't miss it, hon.
At this point, I take a deep breath and repeat as much as I can remember, asking for some clarification along the way (such as what kind of tree is the Lamberts? Is there a sign or something on the old florist shop?). Dawn through in some additional confusing landmarks that did not exist anymore. She was trying to be helpful, I truly think. So I set off thinking at the very least it would be a pleasant drive.
And you know, I did find the movie theater, just past where the ole barbecue joint used to be...