THE ROAD TO ANGOLA (with NextGen translations)

(next week: Driving Miss Daisy in reverse)

Journal Entry #4 (The very popular feature Question of the Week follows)

Jackie got into the car needing a ride to the airport. She was in a perky mood and her British accent made me feel like I had Maggie Smith in the back seat (NextGen Translation- Professor McGonagall.). I was, therefore, somewhat surprised to discover that the professor was actually a high power litigator who specializes in acquiring corporations (Next Gen Translation- like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman only Jackie is a woman not like Richard Gere) that are heading down the toilet. In a tired voice, Jackie shared, “You may have heard of one of my clients. I had told them to keep quiet about our possible merger during this phase of negotiation but somebody decided to talk about it in public. You probably saw it in the paper.” I tried to be empathetic but I couldn’t quite wrap my arms around a rich people problem (Next Gen Translation-like Cher’s problems in “Clueless.”)

Jackie was traveling to manage another client in Louisiana. But due to her frustration with the prior company, she decided to take a refreshing detour…to Angola. “You’re traveling light for a stopover in Africa,” I observed, so proud to remember my geography. “No, this is Angola, Louisiana. I am heading to a rodeo at the prison there.” Apparently, Jackie had read a blurb somewhere describing the Angola Prison’s yearly rodeo. The inmates are the stars of the show. They have such events as bullfighting, wild cow milking, and Guts & Glory where a poker chip is tied to a bull and the goal is to get close enough to retrieve the chip without being gored to death. But the contest that compelled Professor McGonagall to deviate course from her planned business trip is called “Convict Poker.” Four participants sit at a table in the middle of the arena and begin playing poker. A gate opens and a bull rushes into the pen. The last one sitting is the winner. “Normally, I am kind of a flower girl but I just have to see this” and then she added “Plus they sell t-shirts! “ It gave me insight into the profile of those Romans that paid to watch Christians fed to the lions.

It was hard to believe. So after I dropped her off, I pulled over to the side of the road and fired up the smart phone (Next Gen translation- what old people without IPhones use). Sure enough, the annual Angola Rodeo is a real thing. And get this…only the prisoners on good behavior get to participate. Pity the prisoner on bad behavior at that prison.

Check it out for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9xTqaKRzeI
That goes on my bucket list. AND they sell t-shirts.

As an Uber driver, however, I don’t need to go to Angola to discover places of curiosity. Atlanta has its own share of the unusual.

For instance, I found this mural on the wall of an abandoned lot somewhere off of Morehouse Road. It depicts two people apparently being tortured by ants. I wonder what is going on in the mind of the artist, and what the building owner was trying to sell. You just can’t make this stuff up.

And finally, a journal entry on parts of Atlanta that many of us never see. Early one Sunday morning (of course), I found myself in the Howell Mill area. It’s an area with an interesting mix of fancy restaurants, nightclubs, and hip stores (NextGen translation- Urban Outfitters) comingling with rundown apartment complexes, warehouses, and places to go to buy men’s suits for under $100. The address Federico sent landed me in a trailer park. 
Not many people know that Atlanta has a trailer park (NextGen Translation- Where Elle went with her hairdresser to get the lady’s dog back in Legally Blonde.) It’s really big as I discovered driving through the complex. Unfortunately my ride was nowhere to be found, so I gave him a call. Federico answered: There it was — the familiar sound of “drunk guy just starting to come back to earth. “ 
“Federico, you aren’t here and this is a big trailer park. “ 
Pause. “What trailer park?” 
“Okay Federico, do you know where you are?” 
“No.” 
 “Can you describe a building?”

Federico looked around and gave me the name of a place which I looked up on my phone. I drove to the site which made the trailer park look like a beacon of civilization. Now in community service mode, I promised I would find him. Federico was located stumbling along an abandoned road. An ex-girlfriend had lured him to this location, got him drunk, and left him in a stupor. Guys are so dumb. To my male readers- if a girl that you had a bad break up with invites you to meet her in a sketchy part of town and greets you with a bottle of tequila, you should question her motivations and try thinking with the upper part of your body.

NEWS FLASH- All those people you see on sitcoms and on police dramas are real. They are NOT exaggerations of the truth.

On the drive home, poor Federico talked about making bad choices and bemoaned the fact that as a chef he would have to turn around in a few hours to go to work. When he told me where he worked, I was delighted to complain to him about how outrageous it was for his establishment to charge $10 for three hushpuppies. He acknowledged the outrage and was happy to report that they now serve four hushpuppies for $10. (If you live in the burbs you can probably figure it out.) Federico was actually a really good guy who just didn’t think clearly. When he handed me a $20 tip, it just reinforced my opinion.

THE WRAP UP

Being a driver, I have come to appreciate the diversity of people and the uniqueness of a city. There are so many stories. Some are sweet and some are bizarre but they all make up the fabric of urban life. You just have to step back and enjoy the fact that the world can be a very strange place and we should just celebrate the journey. Step outside your bubble and you will discover a whole new world.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I am loving your blog but I worry about you driving all over the city at all hours of the day. Do you ever feel unsafe?

ANSWER: Thanks for worrying about me but an Uber Driver is always ready. My phone turns into a backseat camera and mace is always within reach. I have also taken lessons on how to roll out of a moving car driving at full speed while squealing like a newborn if ever I am presented with a gun pointed at my head. My encounters with strippers, gang members, drug dealers, and ladies of the evening will be revealed in the weeks ahead so stay tuned.

LOYAL FAN BASE… IF YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY FOLLOWING ME, CLICK “FOLLOW” AND USE FACEBOOK TO SIGN IN WITH THE LEAST HASSLES. The goal is one million followers and I am encouraged by the fact that we reached the milestone 120 this past week. Even better, the majority are no longer family members. I don’t even know a lot of you…yet.

NEXT WEEK: DRIVING MISS DAISY IN REVERSE

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