June 16, 2005

Fortunately, there really is no Burger King in Centerville

As I'm driving back north from Atlanta this afternoon, it's about 1:30 and I'm hungry. I think to myself, "Self, wouldn't you like some nice, tasty, salty Burger King right about now? Sure you would. Look for the next one and grab some grub." And that was my plan as I approached Centerville, Georgia.

Right about this time, the 428th Insane Georgia Driver comes barrelling up behind me (I'm in the center lane) and zoom-passes me, with scant inches between his front bumper and my rear fender. The guy is driving a late-eighties Cutlass Ciera, which has obviously been painted over a flat black or which has been exposed to so much weather that it's lost its gloss. The suspension is visibly out of balance and the car is weaving all over the place. The driver takes it up to about ninety miles an hour as he drafts by, and he oversteers on his zoom-pass and gets onto the left shoulder. There he remains, with his left wheels well over the outside line, for about thirty seconds, until he notices the problem, jerks the wheel to the right, and then has to correct back so he doesn't drift back into the middle lane.

After all, I didn't drive down to Georgia to get killed by some asshole who, like a significant number of his fellow Georgians, can't drive worth a damn and thinks he's in a big hurry for no apparent reason. Instead, I merge into the right lane, slow down and let the guy get ahead. Exit #290 to Centerville was approaching and the "Food next exit" sign promised the sought-after Burger King.

The sign on the off-ramp indicated that I would have to drive two miles out of my way, into town, to find the Burger King. I did it, and found a host of other fast-food establishments but no Burger King. Declining the risk of a Krystal Burger while on a long drive, I found a sign that promised "this way back to the Interstate," down a different route than I had taken. Having seen a sign before that said "Centerville Next 2 Exits" I knew there would be another interchange I could use to get back on I-75, so I followed the sign.

Note: if this had been in Tennessee, much bitter experience would have by now convinced me to believe that the sign promising a route to a particular destination was either misleading and indirect, or an out-and-out lie. But I was in Georgia so I took the chance. It turned out to be a good gamble -- the route did take me back to Exit #288, which also had another drive-thru lunch place where I got some food.

Getting back on the freeway after buying lunch, I saw that immediately behind the on-ramp was a large collision. A bobtail truck had tipped over on its side and spun such that it was blocking all three lanes of the interstate; a Georgia State Police unit was on scene helping stop all traffic on the freeway and guide a tow truck to pull the bobtail out of the flow of traffic. I thought to myself, "Self, you're really lucky that you didn't get caught in that! As it turns out, you lost no time at all on the failed search for Burger King."

That's when I saw the second vehicle, completely overturned with a halo of shattered glass surrounding it. A boxy, black sedan. It looked quite supiciously like the remains of the flat-black Ciera that had drafted me and then cut me off about fifteen minutes before. As the big tow truck maneuvered, I could see the paramedic vehicle that previously had been behind it -- and the two paramedics standing around next to an empty gurney. Paramedics move at two speeds at an accident scene -- it's either rush-rush-rush to get the injured person secured and away to the hospital, or stand around and wait for the coroner.

These guys weren't moving real fast.

Was it the same car? I can't say for sure. But it was enough to freak me out a little bit. Not enough, however, to make me lose my appetite. That's a damn tasty cheeseburger Wendy's makes, let me tell you something.

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