Worlds apart


Billie Shelton

I spent a few days in Atlanta last week. It took me just a few hours after I arrived to decide that although the distance between here and there is 950 miles, we are actually worlds apart. That should be no surprise, considering that Iowa has more pigs in our state than people.

I certainly didn’t see any pigs while I was in Atlanta (don’t often see them in Iowa, either), but it felt to me like there were people everywhere. Again, no surprise, since the population of the metro Atlanta area is 5,789,700. Our population is 3.146 million, so that’s lots more people than are living in the entire state of Iowa. Even the state of Georgia, with a population of 10.5 million, has more people than Iowa.

From the look of the highway with its multiple lanes that we took from the airport, most of those millions of citizens have cars that were on the road all at the same time. It wasn’t quite a parking lot because the cars were moving slowly, but there were four or five lanes of vehicles as far as I could see ahead of me. The friend I went to visit, who picked me up from the airport, insisted several times that this much traffic wasn’t normal for the time of day.

In my world, I thought, this isn’t normal for any time of day. We arrived at our destination safely but way later than she anticipated. As for me, I was just thankful to be riding along.

Not only are there many, many more people in the greater Atlanta area than what I’m used to, there is a greater variety of people, too. Lots of tattoos and odd clothing combinations were evident, especially as I attended a renaissance fair where many of those attending seemed to relish a chance to dress in costumes of the renaissance era. It wasn’t even Halloween.

Then there was the Atlanta airport, which I was told is the busiest in the U.S. If there is one with more activity, I’m sure I don’t want to be there, as it was teeming with people of every description hurrying through the terminal. There are moving walkways and a plane train inside the airport to move the hordes more efficiently.

Most amazingly, perhaps, is that it all works–at least most of the time–to get people where they need to be to conduct their business, to attend a grandson’s wedding or a granddaughter’s commencement, to fly off on an adventure or to visit old friends like I did. Overlooking the congestion and potential problems, I decided it is another miracle we have come to take for granted.

It all made me glad to be back in Iowa, which is, perhaps, one of the reasons to travel.