Photo: iStock

Let’s just give you all the punchline first: Dear people who live in Atlanta, I made it from Morehouse College’s campus bookstore to my actual gate at Hartsfield-Jackson in under 40 minutes, while gassing up my rental car and dropping it off to the facility in between. Also, I have receipts to prove it. Seems impossible right? Turns out it isn’t.

To the story.

A few weeks ago, I took a day trip down to Atlanta to see my oldest niece graduate from high school. It was one of those trips where you get into town and do literally nothing more than that thing you came to do. Or so I thought initially. Her high school graduation was on the Monday right after the now-famous Morehouse College graduation where Robert F. Smith decided to change the lives of an entire graduating class. Between all of the texts and internal Morehouse conversations, I was feeling a swell of Morehouse pride so I told myself that on Tuesday morning, on my way to the airport, I’d stop in at Morehouse’s bookstore and see if anything was left.

My flight was at 12:15 p.m. so I figured that if I got to the bookstore right when it opened at 9 a.m. or some time in that vicinity, I’d be solid to do some shopping, head to the airport, drop off my rental and get to my gate in more than enough time to chillax a bit. Now, there are a few things to note here, some more founded than others:

1. To know Atlanta is to know traffic. If you spend a significant amount of time in the city you will meet traffic, date traffic, romance traffic, argue with traffic, curse traffic, etc. It’s a terrible city for traffic because of the city’s ballooning population. Also, public transportation still sucks. I literally lived at the last stop on MARTA’s Blue Line (back yonder, it was the Hightower Stop, now it’s H.E. Holmes). And that’s like, so close to downtown in a car on the highway. Politics keeps public transportation out of the new population centers that aren’t on these maps. Point is, in Atlanta traffic can be a whole ho.

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2. Atlanta’s airport is the busiest in the world, which means that the TSA security lines are trash. Now, I’ve been in there when the lines moved rather quickly and it only took me 10 minutes to get through the whole process (without Pre-Check), and I’ve also been there when I was literally in line for what felt like a literal hour (more like 45 minutes in actuality).

The security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are also a whole ho. But I do have to give shoutouts to Atlanta’s airport for feeling like the club at times; that, I do appreciate. The random number of celebrities I’ve spotted is astounding. Plus, there’s something fun about the idea that celebs and non-celebs are being harassed by the *CENSORED* employees trying to sell me a credit card I don’t need in the damn terminals.

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So with those two points in mind, I prepared my heart and soul for the fact that I might run into traffic heading to the airport and that security might be a ho. Now, I do have two secret weapons at my disposal: TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR. But still, I’m talking about being at the bookstore three hours before my flight. I can’t possibly need more than an hour to go through the whole airport process. What I didn’t count on was the bookstore opening at 10 a.m. Summer hours had gone into effect, which meant that, even though I got there at 9 a.m., I had a whole hour to kill before I could buy another T-shirt I already owned.

At 10 a.m., I walked into the bookstore and perused the fine purchasables and quickly discovered there wasn’t much for me. Eleven minutes and $165 later, I walked out of the bookstore and ran to my car, which was parked on West End Avenue. I hit I-20 at like 10:16 a.m. and then gassed up my car the Shell gas station (I do not have this receipt because this gas station was not dispensing receipts at the pump) on Virginia Avenue, then off to the rental center to drop off my car with Enterprise at 10:33 a.m.

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This is where TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR come into play. For those that don’t know, you have to catch a train from the rental car center to the terminals, and I got off the train, walked straight to the security gates into CLEAR and Pre-Check, which was entirely empty. That probably took a total of maybe 10 minutes. Because God was looking out, my flight was out of the T-Gates. In Atlanta’s airports, the T-Gates are the ones you don’t have to catch the train to get to. Basically, I was able to walk right from the TSA checkpoint right to my gate where I made a purchase at the Corner Bakery Cafe at 10:53 p.m., and I wasn’t the only person in line so that time is later than I actually got there.

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So while I spent all that time stressing getting to the airport in time to catch my flight, clearly unnecessarily, I got to my gate with more than enough time to spare. More than I even realized since I managed to be boarding in the zone titled “Basic,” which BASICALLY means when everybody else is on the plane, and we make sure nobody else needs a ride to D.C., THEN you can get on. I ran into no traffic and my security checkpoint experience was over in under three minutes total.

I realize this may not seem like a big deal to some. And maybe Atlanta is a much better traffic city and the security gates at the airport run smooth as a baby’s bottom at all times. Perhaps everybody makes it from shopping to the airport and to their gates in half an hour and I’m really late here. I doubt it, but it’s possible. But what I know is that there was a time when what I tried would have resulted in a missed flight or at the VERY LEAST me breaking a leg trying to run through the airport, jumping over babies and senior citizens. I felt accomplished, and sharing is caring.

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Also, TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR together make you feel like you can literally get through any airport in under 10 minutes. So I wasn’t that concerned about missing my flight. But I also didn’t think I’d get through everything I had to get through in less than 40 minutes either.

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