As I pointed out in my previous blathering, I’ve been living in the molehills for just over a year now and in that time I’ve discovered a few things that I really enjoy. But of course, it’s reasonable to presume I’ve also run into a few things that I just downright cannot stand.
In an effort to be fair-and-balanced, if I am going to tell you what I love, I must also tell you what I hate–otherwise, by definition, it wouldn’t be fair and balanced.
And so, at the risk of being tarred and feathered (do they still do that down here?), I present you my list of ten things–in no particular order–that I cannot stand about Tennessee.
10. I Can Hear You, but I Can’t Understand What You’re Saying!
Many years ago I read a great book on the history of America’s Founding Fathers named Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution. In that book I read a story about the First Continental Congress; specifically how difficult conversation between the northern and southern delegates became. Men from the north simply could not understand men from the south.
I couldn’t imagine that. It made no sense to me. They all spoke English. English is English. How could one English-speaking person not understand another?
Then I moved to the molehills.
Annnnnnnnd I can’t understand probably half of the population.
When I arrived in Franklin, Tennessee, I lived in a special, protected place called Cool Springs. Cool Springs isn’t actually a real place. It exists outside of the temporal plane and a bit beyond reality. It’s really hard to describe. It’s basically a brand new high-tech and business center smack dab in the center of the 212 year old town of Franklin. And because of what it is, basically no one in Cool Springs is actually southern. So for the longest time I was wondering what all the hullabaloo was about accents. After all, I hadn’t heard any.
Then I started talking to “country folk.”
In my work, I speak routinely with people from rural Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and, well, not people from Cool Springs.
And now I understand.
I find myself literally asking people who I speak to on a daily basis to spell words for me because no matter how many times they say a particular word, I can’t begin to understand them.
This makes communication not only difficult, but annoying to boot. And sometimes it’s just downright hilarious.
See, it’s not that I hate the accent, it would just be nice if it wasn’t there.
“Yo! Buckley: I’m pretty sure we’re not in the mountains anymore.”
This is what the good citizens of Murfreesboro, Tennessee enjoyed watching from their front porches back in 2009. It’s an EF-3 tornado.
I make a point to bring a change of underwear with me this time of year, because if I ever see this monster bearing down me, I know that I’ll be needing it. And as a former Boy Scout, I understand the concept of being prepared.
I hate the wind here, because it seems to have a mind of its own. It’s what I affectionately call “organized wind.” It has an agenda and it’s difficult to argue with a tornado.
The wind here is “mad as hell, and it isn’t going to take it any more.”
I just hate that.
8. The Rain! For the Love of all That’s Holy! THE RAIN!
Have you ever seen rain falling sideways? I have! And I hate it!
Almost as much as I hate the organized wind.
Like many people, I like rain. Well…I used to like rain, that is. The pitter patter of rain drops outside my living room made me happy. Even the occasional thunderstorm can calm a stormy soul. On a cold, rainy day, there’s nothing like a glowing fireplace and some warm hot chocolate.
That was before I moved to the molehills.
If you need any more evidence of how much it rains here, just look at this street sign in Franklin. They actually make a point to tell you where Noah is waiting.
Now I hate rain. Detest it. Abhor it. Shudder at it. If I could, I would condemn it to a terrible fate.
You see, much like its cousin the wind, the rain in Tennessee has a plan!
When it rains here, it doesn’t just rain, it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains, and it rains and then it rains some more!
And it isn’t “normal” rain. This rain thinks.
I’ve never used an umbrella in my life. I can’t stand them. I think they look incredibly nerdy. Here, I have no choice. But even the umbrella doesn’t work. By the time I walk from my car to the front door of my job, I am soaked, umbrella or no umbrella. I may be a bit less soaked, but I am still soaked.
It’s so bad that it destroyed a very expensive pair of shoes because my job often requires that I go out into the holy terror of a Tennessee rainstorm. Soon I’ll be investing in water proof shoes.
Yes. It’s that bad.
A word to the wise: When it rains here, don’t turn your back.
The rain is watching you.
7. I Don’t Know What This Thing is, but I Know I Hate it
I found this nasty looking flying thing lounging on a column at work last summer.
I don’t know what it is. I do know that I’ve had several nightmares about it. I don’t like the bugs here. They have…personalities and they fly. That’s a nasty combination.
6. Nashville’s Highway “System” Isn’t a System at All
No two ways about it: the highway system in Nashville is just evil. It’s the most ridiculous, nonsensical, crazy, jumbled-up mess I have ever seen.
What can you say about a crazy highway system with two major interstate highways that appear to run in the same direction and go to the same place? Do you want Highway 65 or Highway 40 into Nashville? Heck if I know! Maybe you want Highway 40 to Clarksville, or possibly Highway 24. Who knows?!
Take one and start praying that you get to where you’re going.
Want to get to Murfreesboro? Good luck, sucker!
I have driven in Denver. I have driven in Las Vegas. I have driven in Los Angeles. I have driven in San Diego. I have driven in Phoenix. I have driven in Kansas City. I have driven in Philadelphia. I have driven in Minneapolis.
I have even been to Duluth!
Nashville has me beaten. The highways here make absolutely no sense whatsoever and every Nashvillian I have spoken to agrees with that assessment.
It’s a conspiracy.
Apparently it wasn’t always this way.
My fiancé tells me that a few years back the “highway planners” (I laugh every time I say those words here in the molehills) decided to randomly change some of the highway numbers to supposedly lower traffic volume.
Well, I’m here to say that in no way was traffic volume lowered (see the next thing I hate about Tennessee) and I suspect that in truth, the “highway planners” are in league with the rain.
They have a plan.
5. There are More Cars Here Than Rain
Never in my life have I witnessed traffic like I have witnessed here in molehills.
No matter the day, no matter the time, this city of full of traffic.
I remember the days of complaining about the traffic in the mountains. Now I long for those days. Two weeks ago when I left work at 5:00 on Friday, it took me forty-five minutes to drive two blocks.
Yes. Two blocks.
Once again, I must say that the blame lands squarely in the laps of the “highway planners.” This city and its roads were not designed for the population.
My understanding is that “back in the day,” the roads were built to follow the water. That’s all well and good, except that today, the water comes to us, but our roads are still following it. And when you need to get to a place that has nothing to do with water, this fact makes life very difficult.
To make matters worse, Nashville apparently started a road project some time ago to build a roadway that would encircle the city, this making it easier to get from point A to point B.
Good idea. Bad planners.
They never finished the stupid circle.
So now we have a street called “Old Hickory” which stops in some places and starts again in others making it appear that the brilliant “Highway Planners” here named multiple roads with the same name. In reality, it’s all the same road, just unfinished.
You really can’t make this stuff up!
4. The Devil Road
Concord Road. It is my nemesis. I hate it. Detest it. Loathe it. If I could, I would burn it to the ground and sow the ground with salt.
The worst part? I have to drive it almost daily.
Again, I return to the lack of planning and forethought by Nashville’s brilliant “highway planners.”
Concord road, like all of the other roads in this overflowing city of people is heavily travelled and it is the only way that I can get from home to Highway 65 which takes me to Nashville.
By 8:00 AM, the line of traffic on this little country road stretches for miles. If I leave home any later than 7:50, I know that within minutes I’ll be using very colorful language to describe how my morning is starting.
And what about the rest of the time? Say at 8:00 PM on a Saturday? It seems that all of the completely oblivious drivers in Nashville (which is to say most of them) will invariably end up deciding to drive Concord Road. They’ll toddle along at 35 miles per hour–when the speed limit is actually 45–completely unaware of the line of cars building behind them that need to get some place.
And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Because one of Nashville’s most heavily travelled roads is one lane wide in each direction!
So much for “highway planners.”
Yep. You can’t pass. Not until you’ve finally driven 95% of Concord Road when it finally becomes two lanes near Highway 65.
And then there’s “Deadman’s Curve” as my fiancé and I affectionately call it.
The thing is, there isn’t actually anything wrong with Deadman’s Curve. It isn’t an extreme section of road. It isn’t dangerous. It isn’t even challenging. It’s a curve. A curve. You know: a turn in the road. A curve.
The problem isn’t Deadman’s Curve, it’s the mindless drivers who drive it while apparently forgetting to turn their steering wheel. Invariably you can expect to see more car accidents here in a month than you have in your lifetime.
Someone always drives off the road here and into the embankment. The really stupid ones drive through a section of wooden fence again, and again, and again, and again.
It’s so bad that one poor property owner actually rebuilt his fence line and moved it about fifty feet further away from the road to accommodate the lemmings who can’t seem to stay on the road.
IT’S A CURVE!
I hate Concord road.
3. Mosquitos that Fight Back
Ever seen a mosquito on steroids? I have! And I saw them right here in the molehills.
We have mosquitos in the mountains. Large ones, small ones. Sometimes they’re annoying. Sometimes you even have to wear a little bug repellent.
Here in the molehills? You’re not safe.
I remember the day when I went to tour the Stone’s River Civil War battlefield in Murfreesboro.
Apparently the mosquitos didn’t get the message: the war is over!
All I wanted to do was take a nice leisurely walk down a country path and tour the battlefield with my fiancé. It didn’t even occur to us to bring bug spray. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had.
It all started out well and fine.
But then they swarmed us. Trillions of them. And so we ran.
And they followed us.
We made it to our car! We had barely survived the attack of the Stone’s River Mosquito Militia.
Or so we thought.
“Pink! ……. Pink! ……. Pink! ……. Pink!”
“What is that sound?!” I asked her. And then, a scream of horror!
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THEY WERE ATTACKING THE CAR WINDOW!
Thousands of them were literally flying into and bouncing off the sides of the car! They had organized and they were trying to get inside the car!!!
I put the car in gear and drove as fast as I could (thank the good Lord we weren’t on Concord Road–we’d have been dead for sure!).
And they followed!
We finally lost them somewhere along Highway 24 (or maybe it was Highway 40 or possibly even Highway 65; I really have no idea where I was–refer back to the sixth thing that I hate about Nashville).
I don’t like to talk about it. I’m still in therapy. Something about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I don’t go outside much anymore.
2. A Language All Their Own, Y’all!
True southerners employee a strange combination of accent and language that make them both difficult to understand and at least mildly difficult not to elicit some serious internal laughter.
Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy just about everybody knows that “you might be a redneck if you stick your head out of the window of your trailer’s bathroom and yell, ‘HEY! Y’all got some toilet paper over there?'”
The word “y’all” is well-known. Apparently southerners have been using this particular form of poor English long enough for it to have become part of the general lexicon. Wikipedia has a good explanation of this peculiar phenomenon.
But I’ve noticed other oddities of the language down here in the molehills.
Just a few days ago I realized that I had picked up on a trend that I hadn’t completely noticed in the year that I’ve been here.
In most other places, when somebody says something to someone else and that someone doesn’t hear what the speaker has said, or believes that they heard the speaker incorrectly, they usually reply with something along these lines:
“Pardon me?” or “I didn’t quite hear you,” or “Can you say that again?” or “What did you say?” or even “DUDE! Really?! Speak up already!”
But not in the molehills.
Nope! Not here.
When a molehill-ite doesn’t hear what you’ve said, they reply with: “Do what?”
Now what in the [expletive omitted] does that mean?!
The reply would make sense if I had asked the person to do something. The reply makes absolutely no sense whatsoever when I say something like, “Good morning!”
“How’s your day going?”
“You have a really cute dog!”
“Wow! I like the color of your house!”
“My! That sure is a pretty sun dress!”
“ACK!!! THIS YANKEE SCUMBAG IS SEXUALLY HEEERRRRR-ASSSSSSING ME!!!!”
“NO! NO! I WAS JUST COMPLIMENTING YOUR GOOD TASTE!”
For the love of all heaven, the phase that you are looking for is: “What did you say?”
“Do what, y’all?”
At first I thought this was isolated to one person that I previously worked with. Every single time he didn’t hear me, he would say, “do what?” I figured he was just kind of…off.
One day I heard someone else say the same thing. And then another person. And another. You know how you never notice a corporate fleet of vehicles until you start working for the company that owns those vehicles? Then you see them everywhere.
This is the same thing.
I used to only hear one person say “do what?” every time he misunderstood me. Now everyone says it. All the time.
My ears actually bleed when I hear this phase. It’s much like the sound of a fingernail on a chalk board to me.
Some people have suggested to me that I will eventually pick up at least some of southern lexicon.
Silly, silly molehill folk.
Call me a crazy Yankee, but I kind of enjoy proper English. For example: “you all” verses “y’all”. And when something breaks, it will always be “broken.” It will never be “broke.”
And never fear my mountain friends, when you speak to me in the future, if I don’t properly hear you, I will always reply with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. Can you please repeat yourself?”
And now! The moment you’ve all been waiting for breathlessly!
The number one thing that I hate about Tennessee…
1. The Drivers! GOOD LORD! THE DRIVERS!!!
If you think that turning left on a red light is a good idea: stop driving.
If you think that speeding as fast as you can in a leftward direction across a four lane highway without looking over your shoulder is a good idea: stop driving.
If you think that driving 30 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone while the fifty drivers behind you literally scratch out their own eyeballs is a good idea: stop driving.
If you think that putting on your makeup while actively driving is a good idea: stop driving.
If you think that actively driving while reading a newspaper draped over your steering wheel is a good idea: stop driving.
As I’ve previously mentioned…
I’ve been to Arizona.
I’ve been to Nevada.
I’ve been to California.
I’ve been to Pennsylvania.
I’ve been to Florida.
I’ve been to Minnesota.
I’ve been to Nebraska.
I’ve been to Wyoming.
I’ve been to Utah.
I’ve been to Kansas.
I’ve been to Hawaii.
I’ve been to lots and lots and lots of places.
Never, never, never have I seen drivers like I’ve seen in Tennessee.
No matter where you go, people complain about the drivers. It’s a common theme. These complaints are usually overdone at the least and at the worst, completely baseless.
Nope. When you drive in Tennessee, you are truly taking your life into your own hands. I can’t begin to explain the phenomenon, but it’s as real as it gets and it’s not just me complaining about it.
I drive with total strangers almost every day of the week. These people constantly tell me what I already know: Tennessean drivers absolutely suck rocks.
So it isn’t just me complaining. Everyone knows about it and they all complain about it. Even the drivers that suck rocks. They hate the other drivers that suck rocks.
It’s a vicious circle.
The trouble is, I don’t know who these people are. Nashville is a melting pot. Because of that, it’s hard to know if the utterly horrible drivers here are actually southerners or if they are easterners, westerners, northerners or from some other country altogether.
At the end of the day, however, I don’t care who they are. They are foolish, incredibly dangerous and should have their driver’s licenses revoked and their cars sold to The Stupid Driver’s Institute for Behavioral Change.
Or perhaps we should just send them all to driver’s ed before giving them a license. There’s a thought.
And by the by, the story about the person speeding across four lanes of traffic…yeah, that’s a true story.
I was on a test drive one balmy afternoon last fall when all of a sudden some complete idiot literally drove sideways at eighty miles per hour across four lanes of very busy Nashville rush hour traffic trying to get to an exit. Apparently she was too busy to actually drive her car, instead choosing to send a text message, while applying makeup while also simultaneously reading a newspaper and missed her exit.
In her defense, I did actually see several thousand killer mosquitos chasing her car at breakneck speed.