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Oh, for a shortcut on the long and winding road

Oh, for a shortcut on the long and winding road


‘The Marion Mom’ By Dorothy Wilson

I hate traffic. I’d rather drive a detour for 20 minutes than slowly crawl through a construction zone in half the time.

I don’t know why… maybe because it prevaricates productivity. Even though it takes more time, I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

This area has offered me ample opportunity to invoke the construction detour over the course of my lifetime, due to our state of perpetual construction.

I remember as a child attending a school in Memphis, and when traffic backed up entering I-40 at Bellevue, my dad would rev up his 4×4 and trek over the grassy knoll abutting the flyover. Cumulatively, he saved us untold hours with his redneck shortcut… and impressed his girl. (Do you need any more reasons to buy a pickup?) Twenty years ago, when I started driving, I’d consistently take the expressway to go south for all my errands because Highway 77 was a dinky little twolane road with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph.

With my luck, I always ended up trailing behind an oblivious grandma trolling on down the road and backing up traffic for miles.

I found the trip to West Memphis much more pleasant on the interstate. I only had two stop signs to slow me down before entering. It was easy, breezy, high-speed, and time-efficient.

I’m thrilled to say I moved off to college about the time the construction on Highway 77 began to enlarge it to a fivelane highway. I agree, it was much-needed, but my impeccable timing allowed me to skip the construction chaos. By the time I returned home, I had a nice, new trek from Marion to West Memphis that was just as pleasant as the expressway.

I put a rut in that road this year, sometimes hitting West Memphis three times a day as a taxi-mom. (Can I get a “woot-woot” for solidarity?) I can’t say I’m ecstatic about the construction of a Wal-Mart on my happy little path.

Because traffic.

Oh, and also, because Wal-Mart.

Come on, people, haven’t you ever been to Wal-Mart before? Don’t you love how they open all their cashier lanes, all the employees are so friendly, they always stock what you need, they are happy to help you find it, you can always make it a quick trip, and sometimes they even offer to help you out to your car, which is parked conveniently close to the entrance, and you never have to worry about being mugged?

Wait, that’s not Wal-Mart at all.

That’s more like Marion Marketplace.

Some might argue that my objections don’t apply because this isn’t a “Super” Wal-Mart, just a “Neighborhood WalMart.” Yeah, I’ve been to one of those on Hickory Hill in Memphis. Still Wal-Mart.

When I told my brother, who currently lives in Dallas, about the new Neighborhood Wal-Mart, he asked it’s location. I said, “Oh, you know where the First Baptist Church is?”

“Sure,” he said, “Over by the Methodist Church?”

Whoops. I guess it’s been a while since Frank has concerned himself with the location of Marion First Baptist.

“No,” I replied. “They relocated across from that field next to that big house.”

Well that narrows it down.

Like Marion only has one field.

“Oh, I know!” I said.

“It’s next to Dead Man’s Curve!”

That’s a reference everyone understands, Baptist or not! It’s interesting talking to Frank about Marion because he lived here so long ago. He regularly visits, but remembers landmarks like an oldtimer.

I have the opposite trouble with my husband. When he asked directions to the Marion School District Central Offices, I simply said, “It’s across from the old Big Star.”

Blank stare.

His inquiry taxed my brain! So I fell back on the lazy man’s recourse: technology.

“How about I just go there, and you track me on GPS?”

GPS has got to be a wonderful invention for pizza delivery. My husband knew our college town front and back because of his stint at Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. They had a giant map of Lynchburg covering an entire wall for the benefit of their drivers. He knew every nook and cranny of that city.

On the other hand, the first time I ordered from Pizza Pro for delivery, it should have been easy. It’s a straight shot down Highway 77. No turns at all.

My mother gave very descriptive, in-depth directions over the phone. After trying for 45 minutes, the driver called because he couldn’t find us. So much for delivery! A little GPS would have certainly come in handy then, huh? That was years ago. We now order Pizza Pro regularly.

I imagine in a decade, Highway 77 will be a retail hall, with stoplights dotting the corridor, and a steady buzz of vehicles inching their way to shopping paradise.

Sadly, I can’t clamber over a grassy knoll to shortcut to my errands in West Memphis. I suppose I’ll just have to take the interstate.

Maybe they’ll finish construction by then.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures their seven children provide. Her column appears monthly in the Marion Ledger. Reprints are published from time to time in the Evening Times online edition, including this one from March 2015.

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