Southern Roads, Take Me Home

by Garrett Coble
opinions editor

Oh so much to be thankful for.

As I’ve admitted in previous editions of this column, I adore this time of year. Specifically, I enjoy the period after Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas. Typically, this stretch is spent gathering with our loved ones, counting our blessings and starting our wish lists for the coming festivity. I spent the holiday likewise, pondering what exactly I cherished most in my life. It was an easy answer: getting away from Jackson, specifically the drivers. Southern hospitality? It ends at the driveway.

Now I’ve been known to rant and rave about particular superiorities of Nebraska and the north in general, most of which boil down to a matter of opinion. However, when it comes to a comparison of driving, “y’all” are terrible. Simply the thought of ice shuts down the entirety of Dixie, and with good reason. The few times I’ve braved Lakeland or I-55 after an icy night has left me terrified and fearing for my life. Those few souls on the road should likely have been tried with attempted manslaughter, or at least public endangerment.

With such a beautiful history and region, I believe there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the South and Mississippi, but most of the drivers I encounter maneuver as if they have no reason to live. These maniacs are content to dart in and out of traffic, recklessly abandoning their own well-being and that of those around them, just to get to where they need to go. It’s like a twisted version of Manifest Destiny; Jackson drivers  possess God-given right to occupy all three lanes of Lakeland simultaneously.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what authority I have to condemn an entire city’s driving, especially when we only have horses and tractors to scoot around in Nebraska. However, I will say that at least we Nebraskans have the common courtesy to turn on our tractor’s/horse’s blinker before merging into a lane. Yet, the blinker has yet to really catch on south of the Mason-Dixon. Instead, cars choose to merge at seemingly random intervals with only a friendly wave as an apology for nearly turning all surrounding vehicles into modern art masterpieces. On the other hand, some drivers choose to occupy the left lane and proceed at a pace stereotypical of Southern life: unnervingly slow.

I guess this is a prime example of not knowing how lucky you are until you see the alternative. I took the ability to drive for granted until my transplantation down to Jackson. I suppose the language of the road isn’t quite as universal as I believed. Instead, like everything else I’ve encountered in my three years, the south has quite a different take on it. Nevertheless, while you all may be bad, you’re far from the worst.

I’m looking at you New York, you darn Yankees.