Thursday we set our GPS for Clarkesville, GA, home of North Georgia Technical College and Rooster’s Motorcycle Repair Shop. When we stopped for directions to the college, we learned of Rooster's through a local shop keeper who mentioned it as a landmark and possibility for part-time employment.
"Oh, you won't miss it. It's down in the bottoms--past Trinity Baptist on the rite-- you'll probly see Rooster out thar, he's an older fella with a long ole beard. If you stop by, tell'em Jeremy's mom sent ya."
Unfortunately, we never recognized the "bottoms" or Rooster, but I did get an unexpected taste of the mountain community flavor, and it was sweet.
I knew Nathan was anxious about his college entrance exam which commenced at precisely 11:00 a.m. on the NGTC campus. The unfamiliar geography seemed to increase our collective stress at the same rate as the minute hands speedily made their laps. The 2 1/2 hour trip north from Newnan seemed endless. Every north-bound mile brought new and unfamiliar names and scenery. We began to lose trust in our man-made tracker and wondered if we should call the school with an apology and try to reschedule the test. It was apparent that we were off the beaten path--that is, until the "sign" appeared.
The '80's model Ford truck slipped in front of us too slowly and closely for me to avoid seeing the "message" on its very faded bumper sticker. Like Mary's annunciation, this message was unmistakably clear and concise, but, unlike Gabriel's announcement, I doubt that it was directly from God-- but it may have been--He has always been “politically incorrect."
"Got Guns?" I read aloud, as I craned my neck toward the windshield.
I laughed wondering if anyone considered it funny. Apparently, I was the only one in the car who found humor in the parody, but we all agreed that we had to be near the campus. The "Got Guns" sticker was like a blinking neon light. By now, our GPS indicated that we had entered the North Georgia mountains, and this was proof positive that we had, almost quite literally, intersected with its culture. Second amendment fans, plus, a church on every corner, divided by acres of tilled soil, AND, a bearded-Rooster-in-the-bottoms equals?...anyone?... anyone?... Well, that day it equaled a four mile jaunt to our destination. We made it to campus by 10:58 a.m., quite relieved to be on time, possessing a renewed trust in handheld technology, guns, and religion.
"Hello, I'm Wendy, I'm sorry that..." I began my apology to the graying lady at the front desk, who reminded me of a 1950's typing teacher. Her face held laugh-lines that insinuated a permanent smile.
"You must be Nathan's mom. I talked to you on the phone. Well, come right on in, I'll call Daniel who will be administering the test." The campus receptionist engaged us like we were her invited dinner guests and we had arrived just in time for the main course. "He'll be here in just a moment. Can I get you anything?"
I must have answered in the negative because she resumed her desk work with a cheery smile, and for the first time I noticed that my expression exuded the friendliness of a cactus. I made a mental note to relax, and took a seat.
"Daniel's on his way."
"Yes, thank you," I answered mechanically as I opened my manila folder to retrieve the pink slip that included Nathan's full name and test appointment time above the bold italics that read," Student will not be admitted to testing site without picture ID and this admittance slip." Daniel arrived quickly and introduced himself to us. I gripped the required documents ready to thrust them at the kind man who so graciously welcomed us to the school. "So, you're Nathan and you're interested in our motorcycle program?" he asked with interest, as he held out his hand. While he and Nathan exchanged pleasantries, I only half listened as Daniel explained the itinerary for the day, mentioning that testing came first, then a campus tour would follow and conclude in the motorcycle shop.
"I guess you’d like to have these?" I enquired eagerly as I held out the pink admission slip in my hands, wanting to be useful, and yet feeling somehow superfluous.
As soon as Daniel saw the familiar colored page, he waved it off like a pesky housefly. "Hey, I'm head of the program; I already know who Nathan is. You can keep the paperwork." He winked at Nathan embracing him with his confident banter. Nathan exhaled and fell in step with Daniel. A quick and imperceptible link had forged between the student and the administrator. This was Nathan's own college adventure now.
They disappeared through the heavy institutional doors into the glaring afternoon sunlight, and I wondered if Nathan recognized his entry into this new phase of life, or perceived, in any way, his nudge from the nest.