The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta. Zero Mile is a series of sometimes fictionalized and sometimes real stories based on life in Atlanta, Georgia.
By Nicki Salcedo, columnist
Atlanta is a fun town. There’s no denying it. But for visitors and new residents, it can be a confusing place. We have rules. Don’t call us Hotlanta. Don’t bring up divisive subjects. Should you eat at or boycott Chick-Fil-A? Have you accidentally called the cops on your black neighbor? Don’t answer. I don’t want to know.
The city is often in crisis. This year, we didn’t get a snowpocalypse or snowmageddon. We got worse. All year, it felt like the universe was throwing curve balls at our fair city, but not enough curve balls inside Sun Trust Park.
I present to you the most Atlanta moments of 2017.
Super Bowl LI. Yes. Even the Roman numerals will tell you the entire thing was one big lie. It was fixed. The most hated team in football played the team America is most indifferent to. The soul crushing loss was a valid excuse from school or work the next day. I know a few people who used their Julio Jones jerseys to mop up their tears. I love you, Falcons. I always will. I can’t say anything about 2018 or I’ll jinx it. #riseup #inbrotherhood
The Falcons’ new home is shared with our MLS team Atlanta United. Soccer was a big deal. Now we have football y fútbol and a new statue at the stadium. It’s the largest freestanding bird sculpture in the world. I’m on a hunt to see the second largest freestanding bird sculpture. Atlanta likes to be the largest, biggest, fastest growing, but never ever the oldest (see Dome implosion below).
We mostly imploded the Georgia Dome. That’s Atlanta. One wall still standing and MARTA is smarta than the jokers from the Weather Channel who tried to film the event from the other side of an ACTIVE city street during the implosion. Do not come between Atlantans and our morning commute.
A major part of highway I-85 South burst into flames and collapsed. During rush hour. No one died. Not even a little bit. The city believed one homeless man was responsible for bringing down the entire urban infrastructure with a trashcan fire. The rest of us suggested that the city properly secure or dispose of flammable materials.
Then a section of highway I-20 buckled and launched a motorcycle rider into the air. Y’all, we are working hard to get rid of that Dukes of Hazzard stereotype, but I saw plenty of memes of the General Lee escaping Boss Hog that accurately depicted our commute home in 2017.
In a strange hybrid of sports and commuting issues, a truckload of foam Braves tomahawks spilled onto I-75 blocking multiple lanes of traffic. Because Atlanta.
The city promised that the broken section of I-85 would be fixed by mid-June. I laughed myself to sleep that night. And they actually fixed it by mid-May. I’m so glad they used the leftover Tesseract power from the Marvel movies filmed here to get everything finished. Thank you, Hollywood.
And then there was that time a tiger roamed the highways. Even though it happened in Henry County, I’m going to blame the Cobb County Atlanta Braves.
A grouchy guy in the suburbs wrote a bitchy article in the AJC about his frightful commute on MARTA into Atlanta. All these commuting incidents are further evidence of why we should invest in public transportation across the city. Should we consider solutions that are economical, beneficial to the environment, and convenient? Or should we encourage the racial and socio-economic divide that sometimes plagues this city? You decide. That moves us onto politics.
Politics were tough all over America, and Atlanta got national attention for a special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Karen Handel versus Jon Ossoff. Atlanta proved yet again that we prefer having a Sith lord as our supreme leader. The other part of the story is how many people became emotionally invested in Ossoff. Yes, he has a cool name. Almost like a swear word. But there is no defeating the Mrs. Haversham’s of the world. The houses in the District 6 are so big and so gated, it’s no wonder Handel won the race. Poor Pip didn’t stand a chance. Sorry, Atlanta.
The Atlanta Mayoral race felt like the Super Bowl. We had a chance. Then we blew it. The first election split the votes so many ways that a special run-off was held. Most of the city was divided over how bad both candidates were. I’ve never seen anything like, “I’m voting for the least bad candidate.” Great endorsement. The winner was decided by race. White people on the north side of the city voting for one candidate. Black people on the south side voting for the other candidate. It turns out that there are 700 more black people in Atlanta. I’ve counted.
The rest of the story
We got hit with a hurricane. We survived a snowstorm that didn’t completely debilitate the city. We thought we were going to end the year quietly, but the airport said, “Hold my locally brewed craft beer.” For the better part of a Saturday during the busiest travel season of the year, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport completely lost power. If that isn’t the most Atlanta thing that ever happened in Atlanta I don’t know what was. Please don’t mention Izzy the 1996 Olympic mascot.
Next year will be just as exciting. We have monuments debate. We will ponder the meaning of protests and prayer. We still have issues with race, gender, and abuses of power. On the other hand, please remember that this is a city that has done great things. The good things aren’t nearly as funny or newsworthy as the disasters. We’ve helped the fallen and broken. We aren’t afraid of change. We are a city that likes to rise up and isn’t afraid to kneel down. We aren’t perfect. We aren’t proud. The people I know in this city feel like we have the power to change the whole world. Maybe we should. That’s Atlanta.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. Zero Mile stories appear on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.