Lost in Space

Space Shuttle Atlantis Dear NASA:

Atlantans have recently learned that our city’s bid to be the retirement home of the Space Shuttle Atlantis has been turned down. You can bet that we are more than a little shocked — and steamed — about this and can only view your rebuff as a direct snub to our southern hospitality.

Our invitation was heartfelt, sincere …and besides … we’d made plans!

We have spent the last few days pondering what could have possibly been the problem. Was it our notorious and sometimes ponderous rush hour traffic? Was it our kid’s performance   on the CRCT ?  Did we have a low credit score? Were you put off by the insufferable pollen which colors everything in sight around here, ‘yellow’ for two months? What NASA?  What was it?! What?

In the end, we deduced that it was none of these things. We concluded that at the time you made this decision that you were disoriented –quite possibly drunk — and your judgment was impaired. We figured this was due to the side-effects of weightlessness and dizziness as a result of all that spinning about that you people do up in space. (I know that I make better decisions when my feet are firmly planted on terra firma and my head and stomach are not reeling from just having pulled 4G’s. Or being drunk.)

Now back on Earth, we figure that you have come to your senses,  will realize your egregious error and will change your mind. We also figured that you’d offer us a public apology just after  dropping off the Space Shuttle Atlantis — and the keys — at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. We know that you want to make this thing right and being the hospitable sort ourselves, we are certainly willing to let bygones be bygones. But we also wanted to write this letter to make sure that you had all of the facts (and also to let you know just who the hell you’re dealing with.)

First, you should note that we are experts at bidding on stuff.  Sometimes we even bid on things that we don’t even want or that even make sense in the first place. But we bid on them anyway. It’s what we do. The city has an enviable record of being awarded events and old, no longer useful items that now ought  to either be in a museum or someone’s junk-heap.

You can bet that we are not at all  happy about losing out on the kind of thing like a Space Shuttle Exhibit. In the past,  we’ve bid on and won all kinds of junk. Plenty of stuff, we’ll have you know! This includes Super Bowl XXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIV.  Hell, in 1996, we even bid on and got ourselves stuck with the Olympics.

Atlanta is  also the home of numerous big celebrities, the brightest of which, of course is Hank Aaron.  I ‘m told that Elton John lives here … as does The Big Chicken. (In a spirit of full disclosure, we recently had one of those “Whew” moments and lost the bid to have Lindsay Lohan  move here. Fortunately, she is now New York’s problem.)

Despite our past laudable record, lately we’ve gone through a bit of a bad patch. We’ve lost out on a Super Bowl bid as well as the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The Varsity, Jr. also closed down last year. Now this.  It’s all very humiliating and your decision to retire the Space Shuttle somewhere other than Atlanta only serves to deflate our already flagging self-esteem.

Like I said, we’d made plans.

The Big ChickenWe were so looking forward to hearing the boom of the Shuttle breaking the sound barrier as it soared over the city and then landed at Hartsfield, just behind Delta 1286 from Newark. In anticipation of this being Atlantis’ home,  The Home Depot even made up a big sign that said Welcome to Atlanta, Home of the Big Chicken and the Space Shuttle.

Perchance you were concerned about our traffic? Spaghetti Junction at rush hour is not nearly as scary as it might look from space. Just think of navigating around a wreck on I-285 in the same manner as getting around one of those gigantic moon rocks. Besides, we even had shortcuts worked out for you even if you had decided to land Atlantis at Hartsfield during rush hour. The police did a wonderful job of cleaning up Metropolitan Blvd. It is long, narrow and will accommodate something as big as a Space Shuttle.  It is also now devoid of both potholes and hookers.

NASA, being the experts that we are on bidding on stuff, we anticipated that even a retired Space Shuttle would need replacement parts from time to time. Note that we have numerous junkyards, most conveniently located on the Southside, where we plan to park and show-off the shuttle. I am sure that should the need arise that we can easily find old parts from say, a 1980 model shuttle. (If parts can’t be found at a junkyard, my friend Rupert can steal, er … ‘salvage’  anything. Anything! I am sure that Rupert can get whatever spare parts you might need from some shuttle that has broken down on the side of the road somewhere else in America.)

When all is said and done, Atlanta is a most wonderful place to retire even if the retiree is a Space Shuttle. We have good weather, good schools (despite the on-going dustup at the Atlanta School Board) and wonderful cultural opportunities.  There are even plenty of ways to enjoy  oneself on the weekends, even on Sundays. And while our liquor stores and our Chic-Fil-A’s will not take your money on a Sunday, there are many mega-churches, often run by mega-bishops and televangelists, who will happily lighten your wallet through their tithing programs. (Tithing is similar to  the teathering done by astronuats, only you’re tied down to church instead of a  spacecraft.)

Now that you have all the facts, we expect that you will be changing your mind. If you don’t change your minds, our attitude is “Shuttle THIS, NASA!” But we know that it won’t come to that. We know that you want to do the right thing by us.

Lastly, we are still determined to be use  the damn sign that says Welcome to Atlanta, Home of the Big Chicken and the Space Shuttle. ‘Course, we may have to cross out the part about the Space Shuttle.

We’d made plans!

Your friend,

© Copyright 2011 Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.