Monday, June 6, 2011

Lost in Rural Alabama

After a leisurely morning driving around and exploring Livingston, Alabama (where I'll be reporting for TFA duty tomorrow), Mom and I drove to the Birmingham airport to put her on a plane.


There's nothing quite like having your mother abandon you in a strange state to start your new life.

Kidding. I'm not starting my new life yet.

It was a sad morning.

After a long airport lunch and a teary goodbye, I got back in my car and headed back south to Demopolis, my temporary base camp until check-in time. It was supposed to be a two hour drive, but after a week or so of people telling me that I'm pretty good at directions, homegirl got cocky -- and completely lost.

Took me an extra thirty-five minutes to get home.

I ended up on the wrong county road/highway and took a substantial, though scenic, detour through Greensboro, Alabama.

Sadly, it wasn't until I got to Greensboro that I realized something was probably wrong. It all looked the same to me, but I knew we hadn't gone through there on our way to the hotel the night before. So I pulled off at a little hardware store to ask if I was still headed toward Demopolis. The woman laughed.

"Not at all, hon."

I guess I was on a parallel county road/highway to AL-43 (or whatever I wanted) that was growing increasingly less parallel and meandering farther and farther away.

She gave me directions on how to get back on track.


Things I've Learned When Asking for Directions in Rural Alabama:

1. Don't expect cardinal directions. They don't exist out here.

2. Don't expect the person to name any street names either. They may exist, but they're probably only used by the postal service. If you live here, you'll be directed to take a left after the Hale Country Store, which is down low across there a bit, and then take a right at the first light, which'll take you around about a ways and then straight to Demopolis.

3. Follow their directions to the T. When they say go right at the first light, go right at the first light -- even though that particular first light happens to be about seven miles down the road. Don't bloody turn until you get to that light.

4. When in doubt, stop and ask for a second set of directions. The way in which they're told wont change, but the next time you stop, you've probably already completed at least one of the confusing turns, so that's one less confusing instruction for the next person to give you.


So that's what I did. After stopping at the little hardware store, I was completely confused and figured it was best to stop again and ask for a second set of directions. This time I stopped at a large gas station. Seemed like a safe bet. Sure enough, the moment I walked in, this really nice guy asks me if I'm looking for the bathroom.

"Actually, I'm looking for Demopolis."

He grins and points out where to go. Same directions as last time, but much easier to understand. I thank him and get back in my car. Right as I am turning left out of the gas station parking lot, the guy comes out of the store at a sprint, yelling and waving me down.

Apparently getting out of the parking lot going the right way is too much for me.

God bless that guy for sprinting after my car in the dead heat of Alabama summertime to tell me I was headed the wrong direction. Already. Probably saved me at least another half hour of driving.

And sure enough, after following that highway down a ways yonder and then taking a right onto another interstate highway, I finally made my way back into Demopolis city limits. Hallelujah. At least I got a really good view of the countryside around here. It's beautiful, and I'm happy to be spending a couple years of my life here.

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