Atlanta Drivers That Piss Me Off The Most (With Bad Paint Drawings!)

If you follow me on either of my Twitter accounts, you are often subjected to my rants about my daily commute into Midtown Atlanta.  I’ve been making this horrid commute for the past eight years.  You’d think I would have become accustomed to it and perhaps grown a bit more patient with my fellow travelers.

It still sucks just as much as it did when we first moved here in 2006.  Every day, every mile after soul-crushing mile.  But I continue to drive 23 miles into Atlanta 5 days a week because I’m about that paper.

I can bear with most traffic situations.  If traffic is just heavy, or there is a wreck, I suffer through it because what else can you do?  There are certain traffic situations, however, that will send me right into a rage blackout in 0.2 seconds.  Let’s go over them in the order in which they typically occur on my daily commute, shall we?


Wait Your TurnThis situation happens where I turn onto the ramp to I-85 every morning.  As you can see from this amazingly accurate and detailed illustration, the people turning left onto the access ramp have the green arrow.  What you can’t see is that at the end of that ramp, there is a light to control the flow of traffic and avoid a merging fustercluck of epic proportions.  You’ve seen them, I’m sure.  Left lane gets a light, right lane gets a light.  Should work fairly well, right?  The flow of cars should be fairly steady, and there should be enough time to clear the intersection when the light turns yellow.

The problem occurs when the people coming from the opposite direction attempt to merge with the cars that have the left arrow.  Even though they have a yield sign, and even though they will get their own green light in a matter of moments, most of them will force their way into the lane of left turners who are trying to clear the intersection so as not to impede traffic going the opposite direction.  The offending driver is marked by JERK above, and the overly passive driver who lets them in is marked by DUMMY.  The left turners who thought they had time to clear the intersection but now find themselves stranded in the middle of the road with nowhere to go are marked by RAGE.  The driver who becomes aware that they are now going to miss the light because of JERK is marked by ANNOYED.

An easy solution to this problem would be for every JERK to wait his freaking turn.  The left turn arrow lasts for maybe one minute.  You will get a green light all to yourself in mere moments.  You’ll also be able to turn right onto the ramp when the drivers getting OFF the interstate get their left turn arrow.  So ask yourself, is the 30 seconds you may save worth all of the subliminal death wishes you will receive as a result of forcing yourself into traffic?  I THINK NOT.


Just Coming InEveryone who has had a driver’s license for any length of time has experienced this scenario.  You’re riding along the interstate, slowly if it’s the morning commute on 85, and suddenly this person who has had over a quarter mile of lane to himself to merge into traffic decides that he has to get over and he has to get over NOW.  Because somehow the exit snuck up on him, even though he likely makes this drive every single day.  The lane in question is not a tapered merging lane, which, in my opinion, functions best when cars merge in a zipper fashion (i.e., the cars in the left lane leave enough space between them for the cars in the right lane to merge seamlessly).  This lane spans the distance between exits, and there’s no leeway at the end unless you use the emergency lane (which is frowned upon by law enforcement).  The offending driver is, of course, denoted by A-HOLE above.  The added bonus to being this type of A-HOLE is that you also sometimes block the people behind you who are trying to exit the interstate.  Two-fer!

Yes, sometimes A-HOLE has had to drive all the way to the end because drivers already on the interstate have not left enough room for him to enter the interstate and he finds himself in a desperate situation at the end of the lane.  Sometimes.  Most of the time, however, I watch A-HOLE speed down the lane, passing all of the cars already on I-85 with ample room to insert himself into traffic, and then at the last second he flicks on his blinker and expects the entire world to stop for him.  Even worse, there is the A-HOLE who is already on I-85 that jumps into the on-ramp lane because it is free of cars, rides the lane to the end, and then wants to jump back onto the interstate.  Who the heck do you think you are?!  Are you so special, so important, that you are too good to wait in traffic with the rest of the unwashed masses?  NO.  You’re just an entitled A-HOLE.  Subliminal death wishes to you as well.


Last Minute MergeThe flip side of the last second merger is the last second exiter.  The situation where this pisses me off the most doesn’t even happen on the interstate.  There is a road called the Buford Spring Connector that offers a bypass of sorts to drivers who are heading to the Buckhead area.  I use the Buford Spring Connector about 90% of the time because it takes me to Midtown without having to deal with the Downtown Connector.  Instead of going right to Buckhead, I go left to Midtown.  Anyway, there is a one-lane ramp off of 85 that joins with another lane at the start of the Buford Spring Connector.  The people coming from 85 have their own lane, and the people coming from 400/Buckhead have their own lane.

Near the end of the Buford Spring Connector is an exit to get back onto I-85, so that people who live in the area can get onto the interstate without having to backtrack.  That’s where the problem occurs.  In theory, the lefthand lane of the Buford Spring Connector SHOULD NOT STOP unless there is traffic backed up from Buckhead and Midtown.  This never happens.  What causes both lanes to slow to a crawl are drivers who wait until the last possible second to exit the Buford Spring Connector to get on 85 (A-HOLE in the illustration above).  They will ride in the left lane until the right lane starts to split off to 85, and then they will flick on their turn signal and STOP THE ENTIRE WORLD so that they can jump in line to get onto 85.  This, of course, fills the people behind them with RAGE.

Yes, A-HOLE, I know you’re much too important to wait in line.  Except YOU’RE NOT.  You sit your butt in your car in the right lane with everybody else and stop jacking up my flow in the left lane.  You aren’t special, and you do not have the divine right to cut everyone in line.  Your type of A-HOLE deserves any and all ill will directed at you.


Blocking IntersectionProbably the a-holiest A-HOLE on the planet is the one who intentionally blocks the intersection.  This usually happens to me when there is an event happening in lower Midtown or Downtown, and everyone decides that it would be the BEST idea to try to bypass the Downtown Connector by getting off 85 and going down Peachtree Street!  During evening rush hour!  When people are leaving their offices and trying to get home!  Such a great idea, and it ALWAYS works out well for people who try it.

False statement.  Not only do you usually sit in traffic longer than if you had just stuck with 85, you end up pissing off everyone who uses Peachtree Street on a daily basis because you don’t follow the basic rules of etiquette.  Rules like not blocking the intersection when you see that the cars in front of you are going NOWHERE.  Why would you do that?  Why would you intentionally thwart good, honest, hardworking people such as myself in their attempts to get home to their children or pick them up from school?  Have you no heart?  No soul?  No, you don’t.  You’re just some self-serving, entitled A-HOLE who gets off on screwing left turners in traffic.

Newsflash:  we don’t get a left turn arrow at 17th Street (side note:  Mayor Reed, can you please get on that?).  We are completely at the mercy of oncoming traffic.  Next time you find yourself in a heavy traffic situation, how about earning some karma points and leaving the intersection clear so that people can turn left?  And if you choose not to do that, may the fleas of a thousand camels feast on your private parts.

Whew.  I feel better now.  Sometimes it helps just to get it out.  I have come to terms with the fact that this is just how my life will be.  I’ve been dealing with it for 8 years, and I’ll deal with it as long as I work in Atlanta.  But on the plus side, at least it gives me something to complain about.

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I’m coming back.

Man, when life gets going around here, it really gets going. I have never been this busy in all my life and I’m still trying to figure out how to stay on top of everything.

The boys are getting to the age where activities and birthday parties and play dates are starting to take over our weekends. Pair that with a job change {of sorts} for me and the husband’s work schedule, which requires him to work most Saturdays, and you get a very hectic existence.

Hopefully we will get it all figured out soon. In the meantime, some things had to get put on the back burner. But I hope to get this blog cranking again. I enjoy writing and communicating with people in similar situations. Maybe y’all have some tips for me on how to get more organized and keep better track of this insanity called life.

So here’s to the new year {halfway through February…}!

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Get Involved In Your Family’s Finances

I am not a personal finance blogger.  I don’t have any special personal finance acumen.  I can’t give you any secret tips to get and stay out of debt aside from what has worked for us, which is simply don’t buy something if you can’t pay for it right away and develop a hatred of owing money.  That’s about all that keeps us out of debt, my absolute hatred of being in the hole.  We live within our means and prefer to spend large chunks of our money on travel and home improvement {and gadgets, let’s be honest} instead of new clothing all the time and car payments and other short-term forms of entertainment.  We don’t go out a lot, and when we do go out it’s because I’ve found some sort of Groupon or discount.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone shopping for myself.  In my mind, every $25 I spend on a new top is $25 I don’t get to spend on vacation or $25 I don’t get to put into an interest-bearing account or retirement fund.  I have a weird mind, I’ll admit.

Now, I do have a credit card that we keep in circulation just to accumulate Disney rewards points to spend on vacation, putting one or two big purchases a month on and paying off every month.  Sometimes I let the balance carry if we’ve had unforeseen expenses and I don’t want to take money out of savings to pay it off, but as long as the balance isn’t over $1,000 I’m happy.  But aside from that card and our mortgage, we have no debt.  Our cars are paid for, we have no student loans thanks to scholarships, generous parents, and being able to cash flow Zac’s last year or so of school {thanks to having no other debt}, and everything is paid up every month.  We each pay certain bills {all out of our joint account, but we have just parceled out the bills so one person isn’t responsible for all of them} and Zac handles filing our taxes every year.

That last bit seems to be where I’ve painted myself into a corner.  I’ve never filed my own taxes.  I always gave my W2s to my mom because she was the family accountant and did everybody’s taxes at once.  Then I got married a year after graduating from college and started filing taxes jointly with my husband, so I just handed over my W2s to him and he took care of everything else.  Fortunately our taxes have never been very complicated so we have always used the taxes in a box system from TurboTax or H&R Block without any issues.  Until now.

Earlier this year we got a notice from the IRS saying that our income tax returns from 2010 were never filed and we owed many thousands of dollars in taxes for that year.  Which to my knowledge was incorrect, and later confirmed by my husband to be incorrect.  He mailed them a copy of our filed returns from 2010 and we thought that would be the end of it.  Several weeks later, we got another notice saying that our 2010 returns were never filed.  So we sent in another copy of our returns from 2010 via UPS so that we would know they were received.  We heard nothing for a couple of months.  Then about two weeks ago, we got a notice from the IRS saying that we owed a little over $2,600 for the 2010 tax year.  No detailed explanation, no “this is why you owe this money”, just the amount and the deadline to pay it or set up a payment plan.  Well, I’m not going to pay it until I know exactly why they think it is owed, and why we’ve gotten refunds in subsequent years when they claim our returns for 2010 were never even filed.  So Zac made contact with the IRS, which reset the clock and gave us an additional 30 days to have a CPA go over our returns and try to figure out what is going on.

If it turns out that we legitimately owe the money I have no problem paying it.  But I need it clearly explained to me.  It may be something like some information was entered incorrectly, so an exemption was granted that should have been or vice versa.  But I don’t know, because I’ve never filed my own taxes.  So I can’t even carry on an intelligent conversation about the issue with anyone from the IRS or the CPA that will be helping us.  On this issue, I’m completely dependent on my husband.  And while I love and trust my husband implicitly, I need to be more involved and more knowledgeable about this issue in case something ever happens to him, or just to be able to carry on a conversation and know what the heck is going on.  I could be told anything and have no idea how to verify it.  And I do not like being at the mercy of other people when it comes to holding onto my money.

When I think about how funny I am with my money, it is actually a little mystifying to me that I’ve just blithely gone on for nine years without getting involved in our taxes.  I have spending alerts, savings goals, budgets set up; I keep track of tithes and charitable donations.  I check my account a few times a week and my retirement account after every pay period.  I like to know what is happening with my money at all times, even though it isn’t a huge amount of money.  So I think it’s time to pull my head out of the sand regarding our tax returns, if for no other reason than to have an idea of what is going on when something like this happens.  I need to be able to talk to a CPA or IRS agent and figure out what is happening, and right now I can’t do that.  It not only puts me at a disadvantage, but it puts the entire burden of figuring out this situation on my husband when he may or may not have time to do so.

I know there are people out there who are not involved in their family’s finances at all.  Stay-at-home moms who just rely on their spouse’s pay stubs to know what they can spend, or have a monthly spending allowance on the credit card.  Husbands who just hand over their entire check to their wives so they can handle all the bills and shopping {like my dad}.  And if that works for your family, great.  It’s worked for my parents for 34 years.  But what if something were to happen to my mom?  My dad doesn’t know what bills need to be paid on what date.  I’m sure she has a store card or two that he doesn’t even know about, and even though she pays off everything every month, what if she charged something on a store card and then something happened?  He wouldn’t even know to pay that bill.  It would be completely overwhelming to him to have to suddenly head up his household’s finances.  What about a stay-at-home mom whose husband leaves or is in an accident?  What if one spouse or the other has a secret credit card that they’ve run up, and it becomes too much to handle even the minimum payment?  What if a job loss happens, as it did to us last year?  What if your obligations cannot sustain a sudden drop in income?

Yes, this stuff does happen.  Quite frequently, actually.  This is why both spouses/partners need to be involved in every aspect of their household’s finances.  This is why Zac and I regularly have State of the Household meetings and talk about our family goals and budgets and make sure that we are both on the same page.  We go over our accounts regularly, we check our credit regularly, we tweak our 401k contributions when necessary.  And this is why I now regret not taking an active interest in filing our tax returns every year.  Since I’m extremely invested in our household’s finances, it makes no sense to not be involved in preparing our taxes.

That changes this year, and you can take that to the bank.

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It’s NaBloPoMo!

That might look like gibberish to some of you.  Let me elaborate quickly.

November is National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers are encouraged to make 30 posts in 30 days.  In my world, this is a tall order.  Life gets busy, especially as the holiday season kicks into high gear later this month.  But in an effort to get my blogging juices flowing again, I’m going to do my best to participate in NaBloPoMo.  I’m not promising a post every day, but I’ll at least think about posting every day and maybe hit that goal a few times a week.  Deal?  Deal.

Of course, that brings up the recurring problem I have of not having any idea what to write about.  My life isn’t especially exciting.  I don’t have any forward-thinking notions or explosive controversial opinions.  Things have been pretty easy lately, which after the past couple of years I will gladly take.  And the very act of typing that out will certainly bring some sort of drama or shenanigans right to my doorstep, I’m sure.

So we’ll see where things go this month.  I don’t really have any set game plan or anything.  I just decided to participate a few moments ago, actually.  So this should be fun.  Maybe not for you, but probably for me.  So get to writing!


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Four-Year Old Fear

My four-year old seems to have developed a fear of…. well, everything.

Okay, so not actually everything.  But anything that could remotely be construed as scary?  He’s scared of it.  This kid who handles the dentist with more bravado than I’ve ever even thought about is reduced to tears at the strangest and most benign things.  And I don’t really know what to do or how to deal with it.

Last night we went to a local pumpkin patch.  This particular pumpkin patch does have some mildly scary elements, such as a fairly comical animatronic Freddy Krueger at the entrance.  It barely even looks like a real person, but because its head moves and it talks and has an ugly face, Cole is deathly afraid of it.  He literally cowered behind us to get past this thing.  But the fear didn’t stop once we got past Freddy.  It seemed like every nook and cranny of this place was fraught with peril.  Inflatable spider with a moving head?  Terror.  Cartoonish Dracula slooooowly arising from his inflatable coffin?  Imminent death.  Completely stationary plastic black cat at the last turn of the three-foot high cardboard maze?  Drag me to hell.

Seriously.  He would not turn the last corner of this little maze until Zac walked all the way around the outside of the maze, leaned over the barrier, and blocked it with his arm.  Then and only then did Cole light out of there like he stole something, tears welling in his eyes.  It was simultaneously heartbreaking and so frustrating.  Why is my little boy suddenly paralyzed by fear of things that he KNOWS are not real?  We talk with him all the time about how monsters and ghosts and zombies are not real, that they are made up for fun.  We’ve never told him that there are monsters under his bed or ghosts in the closet.  One of his favorite movies is Monsters, Inc.  He knows that those monsters are pretend and thinks they are hilarious.  So why can an obviously fake inflatable Dracula make him quake in his boots, and why can a plastic black cat sitting in front of a black sheet reduce him to tears?

We told him last night in the maze that he needed to be brave and just walk past the plastic cat.  He knows karate, we reminded him, and he can protect himself and roundhouse that cat.  But he couldn’t make himself walk past it.  He tried, Lord he tried.  Each time his little chin wrinkled and he looked over at us with such a desperate face.  When he finally made it to the exit, he ran out and wiped away his yet to fall tears, saying quietly to himself, “I’m not brave.”  Heart:  shattered.

I don’t know if we handled it correctly.  I’m inclined to say no, we didn’t.  Of course we didn’t make fun of him or chastise him in any way, but I’m not sure that we made him feel like his feelings were valid either.  We are both very rational people, and I have to constantly remind myself that children are irrational and sometimes things can’t be explained enough to assuage their fears.  We did tell him that he was a brave boy, that he was smart and funny and generally an awesome kid and that being scared didn’t change any of that.  We reaffirmed that we would not let anything hurt him.  But nothing seemed to ease his mind.  And of course we had to walk past Freddy Krueger on the way out, which had him scrambling around us to get away from him.

I just don’t know what to do.  Is it a phase?  I mean, obviously he won’t be heading off to college still scared of inflatable Draculas {hopefully}, but I hate to think that his fear might get in the way of him enjoying normal childhood activities with his friends.  Pumpkin patches, fall festivals, hayrides, bonfires.  I don’t want my son to sit on the sidelines because he is afraid.

Sigh.  I guess I can just hope we handle it better next time.  Because I’m sure there will be a next time.

But we did pet some bunnies.

And act silly with Brother.

…and Dad.

So all in all, a good night.

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