Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Off the Grid: Week - What I Got to See Today

The corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway is tricky for everyone at all times of the day or night but most especially the pedestrians, runners and cyclists. Essentially, anyone without 3,000 pounds of metal around them. And for those folks, there's the panhandlers.

If you've lived or visited downtown Atlanta, you know the intersection I mean. Eastbound, Freedom Parkway is just cranking up and westbound is a nice dump into the connector exits or onto International for the drop into downtown. Westbound, it's my favorite open secret way of getting over the interloping connector and onto Piedmont. North and southbound it's a war zone between Sweet Auburn and the hospital formerly known as Georgia Baptist. As an added bonus, the Freedom Park path, a walking trail from downtown to Stone Mt., also runs east west.

Part of what makes the intersection such a tender bitch is the collective attitude of the drivers. And that's odd since many of them are listening to NPR and heading home to Va-Highland, Inman Park, L5P, etc. We're talking small cars with affirmative bumper stickers here. Of course the north-southbound drivers are in trucks and for some reason will not believe that people are actually walking anywhere near the exit ramp, but much less dragging small and medium-sized kids from the elementary school just two blocks south. WTF?

So, I'm heading home from Candler Park where I've finally taken a yoga class for the first time since the lay-off and get stopped at the light where I'm gunning to be the last left over the connector. But it's all jammed up and there's an emergency vehicle stuck way to the west heading east, siren going, nobody moving, whether they can or not. Note: the road game here is to jump an EMT's space and take advantage of whatever fresh real estate is before or after it. But that's not happening to anyone here. Instead, cars and trucks have turned into sullen cattle and no one's giving anyone an inch.

Until this "street guy" who seems quite crazy strolls purposefully, manfully, into the intersection and starts herding cars. At first it's like he's crazy. Like still-in-Saigon crazy only it's not really 1978, it just feels like it sometimes. The man (no longer a guy) is trained to do stuff like this but he's still nuts. But it works. Like, he puts himself in front of this jackass who's gonna try and get his ass through the light no matter what or where the EMT, which has now reached Boulevard and needs to get off the southbound exit and turn around in a hairpin to get north to the hospital formerly known as Georgia Baptist. Note: I didn't know this last part until the EMT loomed into my sideview mirror. (should I have moved?) I, everyone, 8 lanes of sitting drivers, are watching this no-longer-crazy guy choreograph the EMT's northbound maneuver, and, like a headwaiter, bow it on it's way.

I'd have honked in appreciation, but that would have been dangerous. I believe we all felt that way.

When our traffic here finished the job, he sauntered back to his panhandle corner (westbound) and took a damn bow!

And we all went on our way home. And I repeated the line "what I got to see" over and over until I could get up here and tell you all about it... Sometimes it's just so good to pull my head out of my ass.


Cyn said...

Ever noticed that in the middle of chaos, usually the person best equipped to solve the problem is viewed as "still in Saigon crazy"??

Sending Pages Out to Dry said...

it's a gift, i guess