Chris Johnson

Traffic is never so bad that fried chicken in Georgia small town can’t make it worse

There are a few things I like about big cities like Atlanta, Chicago and the greater Ladonia metro area. They’ve got concerts, tourist attractions and major professional sports teams. In fact, I hear the Ladonia Loons are considering trading for LeBron James this summer, but that’s just a rumor like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston or climate change, so please don’t spread it.

While I like to occasionally visit a city, I almost always leave thinking, “Why would anyone want to live here?” If you prefer big city living, more power to ya. I’m not being critical of you or judgmental, although clearly you’re some sort of wacko.

Yet, every local politician talks about how their policies will help their city grow, when most cities need to shrink. Sure, the tax base grows, but then so do all the services a city must provide. As the population increases, so does crime, pollution and my biggest per peeve about cities, the traffic. No matter how well a city plans for increased population, the streets and highways are always a few years behind the traffic needs.

I suspect just about all of us of driving age have found ourselves going somewhere around 0 to 1 mile per hour on Interstate 75/85 around Atlanta, especially at rush hour. When that happens, I have to floor it and use the emergency lane.

“What did you think you were doing?” the cops like to ask me when this happens.

“Sorry, officer, but the sign said ‘minimum speed 40 mph’ and I didn’t want to break the law. By the way, you should arrest all those folks who were in front of me.”

Of course, Atlanta is hardly the only city beset by traffic problems. A few weeks ago, I had to use the median to turn around on U.S. 80 in Phenix City just outside Columbus because traffic was completely stopped — well, unless that U-turn was illegal, in which case I patiently waited for the traffic jam to clear. Yeah, that sounds like what I would have done. Sure.

The only time I’ve driven through Chicago, I had to drive through the middle of downtown toward the south side, in the pouring rain, as it was getting darker and my GPS decided to quit working. While addressing my GPS issues, I made sure to pull into the parking lot of one the finer establishments on the south side, where signs advertised lottery tickets, cool beer and discount contract killings. A couple of fellas looked at me and just shook their heads and said, “Nah, too easy.”

The most unexpected traffic jam I’ve encountered, though, was just a couple of weeks ago in a small town — Americus, Georgia, where I’m told I attended college some years back. Traffic ground to a screeching halt. Horns blared and truckers shook their fists and yanked their rigs out of the non-moving line of cars. None of us well behind the source knew what the holdup was … until we drew closer.

And smelled grease.

I was unaware that it was opening day for a chain restaurant whose main offering is fried chicken. I don’t want to give the chain free publicity, so let’s just say it’s name starts with a K and ends with a C. I’m not going to tell you all the letter in between because that might give it away.

The restaurant is in a horrible location at a corner of two busy streets, but that didn’t stop about 2,000 drivers from trying to get their fingers on some fried chicken — something they could do at only about a dozen other such places in the town.

I understand the attraction, and I might would even visit myself if I were willing to endure a Kentucky fried traffic jam. In time the traffic jams will ease at this restaurant, but it will undoubtedly be replaced by a new traffic problem — trying to find a parking spot at the local cardiologist’s office.

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