In My Opinion

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Welcome to Charlotte's 'Alcatraz Experience'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. First, a housekeeping note: Florida delegates, you can cut off your turn signals at any time.

Now, there’s just a few little things you need to know about us.

If you should meet an actual Charlottean – and this is highly unlikely because we’re not allowed in the Democracy District during the most open and accessible convention in history – do not be alarmed when we make eye contact and say hello.

You need not hand over small change or surrender your billfold. That’s just the way we act here.

As you’ve noticed by now, our city is so clean it could be Canadian. As cities our size go, we’re pretty well behaved. Our last major dragnet targeted jaywalkers. That is an actual fact.

By now you’ve noticed that our hospitality includes turning the convention area into a patriotic theme park. We call it “Alcatraz – The Experience!”

Those of you interested in Southern history probably wonder about our role in the war here. We won. When it comes to the war, we always talk about the Revolutionary War, the one where we sent Gen. Cornwallis legging it back North.

There was technically another war in the 1860s, but we don’t discuss that one much because we’re an aspirational city and don’t dwell on topics like The Great Unpleasantness.

Officially, Charlotte could be considered the last capital of the Confederacy. Jeff Davis met for the last time with his Cabinet here, on Tryon Street. With the Yankee cavalry closing in, deliberations were focused on who deserved the fastest horse.

On the land where your convention is being held once stood the Confederate Navy Yard. Yes, it was 200 miles from the ocean, which was problematical. But on the bright side, it was never shelled by Yankee warships.

Our population here has grown rapidly, and you’ll soon see why. Interstate 77 runs right through the heart of town and is the busiest stretch of highway in the state. It also serves the airport, but there are no signs on it telling you where it is.

Over the years, people who came to visit finally gave up trying to find it and just bought homes. Our tourism slogan here is the Eagles’ classic hit “Hotel California.”

If you absolutely, positively must return home, look for signs on I-77 for the Billy Graham Library. There are 317 of them.

Follow those, then ask the nice people at the library how to get to the airport, which is hidden nearby.

Enjoy your stay. Wear buttons and funny hats. Spend money. We hope you’ll return after martial law.

Washburn: 704-358-5007.
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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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