Saturday, April 8, 2017

The road atlas, or, good things come

I have had a fascination with maps for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used to sit with Grandpa Joe at his kitchen table and we'd pour over a road atlas, studying what new roads had been completed or proposed (the Eisenhower Interstate System was still in development), or how we might get somewhere, alternate routes and all. It was fun. It was sort of like daydreaming.

For years now, I've wanted a new road atlas. Yet whenever I was in a store thinking about buying one, I'd always talk myself out of it. They seemed so expensive; while it was one thing to buy a book which you might read over and over if you really liked it, buying a book of road maps seemed silly. I never bought one.

Until Wednesday. I was gassing up outside of Knightstown, Indiana and saw a rack with 2017 Rand McNally road atlases for $6.99. I picked one up, then put it down. What did I need an atlas for? Then I thought to myself, in true Joe Cosgriff form, aw Hell. I picked it up again, gave the cashier a fifty and said to give me the balance on pump five, and turned to go.

"Sir! Sir!" she called after I was a few feet away. "A coupon printed after your receipt. You get two dollars off your road map." I went back and took it. My atlas would only cost me $4.99. I guess good things do come to those who wait.

That night in my hotel room as I ate the fast food dinner I'd bought before check in, I sat at the desk and went page by page through my new book. I found that a few things have changed since 1970. Grandpa, did you see there's an Interstate 49 cutting through western Arkansas? Who'da thought they'd put a freeway there?

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