Continuing with my theme of levity for the rest of this month, I thought I would share with you this delightful guide to Alabama entitled "Understanding Alabamer" that has been making the rounds of the internet. No one seems to know from whence it came. Perhaps one of you knows the author. If so, please leave a comment so that I can provide proper acknowledgment. I wish I could say that I wrote it but, alas, I am only passing it on. Here goes.
"First you must learn how to pronounce the major cities...Burminham; Huntsvul; Mobeeeel; Motegomry.
Driving Information: Alabama has its own version of traffic rules. The truck with the loudest exhaust goes next at a four-way stop. The truck with the biggest tires goes after that. Note: Blue-haired ladies driving anything have the right-of-way anytime.
To find anything in Burminham, it is required that you know where Malfunction Junction is, which is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. It may be one of only two 'cloverleaf formation' interchanges in the world. We invented it and only one other city was stupid enough to implement it again, Atlanta-- making them only a wee bit dumber than we are.
The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.If the term 'merging delays' is ever used by the person reporting the traffic, even in passing, call in to work and tell them that you will be at least 30 minutes late regardless of where you are in your commute.
If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be (at the very least) rear-ended, cussed out, and possibly shot. This applies to male and female drivers alike. You must know that 'I-459,' 'I-59,' 'I-20,' and 'I-65' are the same road. They just loop around, cutting in and out of each other's path. We think this was a ploy utilized to confuse outsiders and discourage visitors after the War of Northern Aggression.
Always, always, always, find out if it is a race or football weekend before you get on any of these highways to travel somewhere. If it is a race or football weekend, stay home.
Construction is a permanent fixture in Alabama. The barrels are moved around in the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a little more interesting. If someone has their turn signal on, wave them over to the shoulder immediately to let them know -- you can be sure it was 'accidentally activated'.
The minimum acceptable speed on 'I-65' (see above) is 85 mph..Anything less is considered downright sissy. This is also Alabama's state-highway-sponsored version of NASCAR -- especially during rush hour (see above) and everyone in the city is driving at once, bumper-to-bumper. If you are in the left lane and only going 70 in a 55-65 zone, you are considered a road hazard, and will be 'flipped a bird' accordingly.
Do not gawk at the woman in the car beside you in traffic who is applying make-up, drinking a Diet Coke, smoking a Marlboro, and maintaining a steady speed of 85 mph on I-65 in rush hour traffic. If she is coming from north of Burminham, she might be packing. If she is coming from south of Burminham, she is packing and is not afraid to use it.
Weather Information: If it's 110 degrees, Thanksgiving could be next weekend. If it's 10-20 degrees and sleeting or snowing, then watch out. Burminham residents consider this 'demolition derby' day and will be all over the roads (frontways, sideways, etc). Please proceed with caution, as you could be the next target.
Seasonal Information: If you stick to the seats in your vehicle, it is Spring. If you need to let the car 'get some air' while standing next to it with the doors open for a minute before you can stick your upper body inside to crank it and get the air going, it is Summer. If you are sweating even with the windows down, driving 55 mph, it is Fall. If you finally turn the AC off and roll your windows up, it is Winter.
General Information : Do not ever speak during the song 'Sweet Home Alabama' unless it is to sing along with the lyrics. This is a form of heresy and will erupt in a brawl if everyone doesn't show 'proper respect' to the band who gave us 'Free Bird.' This is especially true if alcohol is present (notice I didn't say 'sold at this event,' but 'present').
Yes, we know that Vulcan is mooning the entire city of Burminham. It's not that funny to us anymore, and by now we're used to it.
If you ask someone for a 'coke,' they will often ask you, 'What kind?' This is not a trick question. Tell them what you want: Sprite, Dr.Pepper, Root Beer, etc., it is all 'coke'. All tea is sweet. If it's not sweet, you are in a Chinese restaurant or have crossed the Mason-Dixon Line.
You don't push buttons, you mash them. You measure distance in minutes. You'll probably have to switch from 'heat' to 'A/C' in the same day. All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect or animal. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked. You carry jumper cables in your car...for your own car.
Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air. [Watch Swampland for my upcoming blog called Possum Tales and Other Southern Stories]
There are only four spices: salt, pepper, Tabasco and ketchup.
We have four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, still Summer, and Christmas .
The local papers cover national and international news on one page, but require 6 pages for local gossip and sports.
The first day of deer season is a national holiday.
100 degrees Fahrenheit is 'a little warm'.
Fried catfish is the other white meat.
Remember: everyone can't be a Alabamian; it takes talent. You might say it's an art form or a gift from God!"
[Photo of loaded truck courtesy of my friend Holly Hollman who also thought this essay would be of interest to readers of Swampland.]
And while I am passing on useless information, did you read about the truckload of hogs that overturned on an Arkansas interstate and blocked traffic for nearly six hours on Monday morning? Seems one of the biggest problems, in addition to corralling the runaway hogs, was keeping the swine from having heat stroke. Since my daddy was a veterinarian, I know what you have to do. You must keep pouring well water on them or hose them down until their condition is stable. Apparently, it is as hot in Arkansas as it is in Alabama.
---Penne J. Laubenthal