When I lived in Atlanta, to get anywhere into the city or beyond (like my college, or jobs, or theatrical events, etc.), you had to drive on what is known as the Downtown Connector, a section of road where two major highways, I-75, and I-85, combine to go through the middle of the city before splitting into their respective directions north of Georgia Tech. This is still the case, although the exits and lanes have changed and continue to change on a regular basis.
Many times, while driving or riding over this road, there was a particular section, just as we left our south-side area proper, where the road rose high above the neighborhoods below. Regardless of time of year or season, the car would be enveloped in an overwhelming aroma of bacon. As much as possible, whether I was the driver or the passenger, I tried to crane and gaze over the guardrails to see where that powerful fragrance was coming from. All I could ever see was a sign for one of the multitude of Waffle Houses that call Atlanta home. I couldn’t imagine even the busiest of Waffle Houses could cook enough bacon to make an aroma that could get into my car from over a quarter-mile away. Baffled, I filed it away as one of life’s little mysteries.
Cut to a scene in the 1980’s. For some reason, during that time, right after my daughter was born, working my first job for a weirdo who charged you “negative time” if you missed work, I got called for jury duty three or four times. I ended up serving on nearly all of the summons. Most were for civil cases, insurance, money judgments, and the like, but my last time serving jury duty in Georgia was on a murder trial.
Like the majority of murders, it was incredibly stupid. Two coworkers had gotten into an argument, one worker had hurled verbal slurs and bad language at the other one and then they separated. The other worker, enraged by the name calling, went to the locker room, got a knife and proceeded to stab the other worker, who later bled out and died. Stupid. One life gone and the other ruined over a bunch of meaningless words. The biggest thing I learned at that trial was that words alone are not considered provocation for physically violent reprisals. At least that was the case then. Now, who knows?
Anyway, as I and my fellow jurors sat in the box and listened to the attorneys build their cases, one detail stuck with me. The two young men happened to work in a factory that processed and packaged products for Frito Lay, Inc. And one of the things they produced was pork rinds. And, you guessed it, that factory was located in the general area of that section of highway where I always smelled bacon. When I put those things together, I just had to shake my head at the utter randomness of the Universe. Who could have possibly thought that by serving on a jury that I would find out the solution to a weird question that had bugged me for years?
And sadly, based upon a great deal of evidence and a thorough explanation of the law, we found the defendant guilty.