I still remember a fun night in the winter of 1995. I was at Lispcomb University (my alma mater) in the Green Hills section of Nashville, just south of downtown. When I arrived at the game, we were in the middle of one of those cold drizzles that characterizes most winter precipitation in the mid-South. It was wet and unpleasant, but it wasn’t unsafe. By the time the game ended, however, the drizzle had turned to snow, and the wet roads had turned to ice.
My apartment was only a few miles away, in the suburb of Brentwood, but it was literally impossible for me to get home. Every road was blocked with an accident, and the clear roads were impassable due to ice — even my four-wheel-drive couldn’t make it up a modest incline. After trying for hours, I parked my car on the side of the road, hiked a few miles to a friend’s house, and spent the night. No big deal.
So before we commit ourselves to light rail, $12 billion in infrastructure spending (as if the decade of construction that entails wouldn’t have made things worse last week), and to once again condemning all those Americans who want an actual yard to go with their house and don’t like living in a tall building right on top of their favorite coffee shop, I can think of two relatively inexpensive ideas that likely would have made Atlanta’s traffic jam a bit less rough:
1. Do what Nashville did this morning and cancel school. We had snow and freezing rain in the forecast; snow days are built into the calendar, so just call off school.
Then there’s also the element of personal responsibility. Since we southerners like our car-driven lifestyle, we need to prepare for adversity. I always carry in my car blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit and other necessities that will keep my family warm and safe even during extended traffic jams and/or breakdowns and will also allow me to render aid to my fellow man. I’d rather be a blessing than need a blessing.
If you’re warm, if you’ve got some food and water, and if you can help out your neighbors, a traffic jam is little more than an inconvenience and a good story. But for some, it’s a crisis — and we all know a good crisis is a terrible thing to waste.