Shortcuts…well…sometimes they are longcuts.
The commute to work this morning at 5:00am was very uneventful. No accidents on the Amite River Bridge, no over-turned 18-wheelers in the construction zone, not even a Baton Rouge City police officer doing a morning “fly-by” to make it to shift change (that subject is sure to make it into a future blog). With that being said, there was a time in my life that I could guarantee that there was going to be some drama on the road in the morning.
To all my fellow East Forsyth High School Alumni…I am sure you will appreciate this. When I was in high school, first period began at 7:40am. That meant you needed to get to school no later than 7:00am just to congregate by the heater in the 400 Building…not to mention get your choice of parking spot. Just to clarify…I am writing this in reference to my junior and senior year when I was actually allowed to drive to school and park on campus…sophomores were not allowed to park on campus…and if you drove as a freshmen, then you had other issues. I did however manage to secure a parking sticker from an upperclassman my sophomore year and park on the hill…but that too is for another blog. Now imagine this, I graduated with 333 or so other students in 1992…so let’s pretend there were just as many juniors that same year, plus the faculty, staff and other students who came to school on the bus. However you break it down, that is a lot of people going to one place at the same time…not to mention there was really only one entrance. Face it, if you got to school late…you may be parking a half a mile from campus. That gets me back to getting there by 7:00am. So, if you drove in from the east to school, chances are your main route was West Mountain Street…and so was the route of MANY. Anywhere along this route, you were bound to come upon a school bus with the same destination…moving along at or below the posted speed limit, with some making stops along the way. You knew though, that further down the road, you would have your chance to pass them ALL. After passing through Talley’s Crossing (you know, by Skate World), there was a side road that you could take to pass all traffic, including buses, that were traveling towards East Forsyth via W. Mountain Street…the well known Pisgah Church Road (PCR). Now I say it is well known…but I think the only time I EVER went down Pisgah Church Road was to pass all these buses…so I don’t really know how well traveled the road was during other parts of the day. I bet it was relatively quiet though. Anyway, there were a couple of decisions you had to make before turning off onto PCR…the first or second entrance? If bus traffic was light…take the second…if it was heavy…definitely the first. If you were to stay on W. Mountain St., the route is 1.1 miles which takes you two minutes to travel (thanks Google Maps), and if you take PCR, the route is 1.2 miles which takes you four minutes to travel. Therefore, if you do the math, you MUST exceed the speed limit while traveling along PCR to beat the buses. I can’t remember what the speed limit was along PCR but I can’t imagine it being more than 35mph. What I CAN imagine is testing the limits of the suspension on my 20+ year old 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass that I drove while traveling down that road. I only wish I had my current vehicle to navigate down PCR back in those days…I would eat those curves for breakfast everyday…not to mention it wouldn’t have hurt my chances with the ladies. The Oldsmobile did have a huge backseat though…and front seat for that matter. The Olds wins that category! Back to the story…as I barreled down PCR with the V8 moaning, the suspension creaking, and the oversize tires occasionally rubbing my fenders, it all worked out at the end when I passed all buses and made it back to W. Mountain Street, successfully securing a front parking spot at school and a place to sit on the heater. You might be thinking, “Big deal…a shortcut…who cares?” Well…there was a big chance you took by taking the PCR shortcut…the morning train! You would never see the train before you got on PCR…because if you did…you would not get on it. If it did show up, it was always crossing the road you would take right before getting back on W. Mountain St. in front of the buses. Dammit! There goes my parking spot AND my seat on the heater!