Friday, November 03, 2006

Adventures in Traffic

As I’ve blogged before, I have a hellish commute to my job. And between that commute and my commute from work to Waitstaff rehearsal, I spend a fair share of my life on the road. Which would normally sound cool: “Yeah, I’m always on the road.” When in fact the road I’m referring to only encompasses about 40 miles. How sad.

But the road is never dull, never boring. (That last statement is covered in creamy sarcasm. I squoze it myself.)

Consequently, some very mundane occurrences I’ve taken in while on the road stick out in my mind, because, hey, there’s nothing else really happening. Now, in an effort to remove one of them from my psyche, I share it with you.

The Lighting Pole

On my way to a Waitstaff rehearsal, I got held up in a fairly formidable traffic jam. Turning on the news on the radio, I discovered during their traffic report that a light pole had fallen across the roadway going westbound. It was causing a gaper delay eastbound, the direction I was heading, but had effectively blocked all lanes going the other way. Which made me both happy and upset; happy that I wasn’t headed westbound and caught in that mess, and upset because I cannot STAND gaper delays.

Unless there’s a head rolling across traffic, I don’t understand why people have to gape at some dude who forgot to fill up as he stands on the side of the road on his cell phone. He’ll be fine. Now F*CKIN’ DRIVE!!!!

However, in this instance, as I inched closer to the “accident” site, I could see why people were slowing down to stare.

Not one, not two, but seven police cars were on the scene. Seven! You can’t even get that many when there’s been a drive-by! And I didn’t even mention the emergency vehicle, the maintenance truck, and the fire engine, did I? Well, now I did.

And behind this wall of flashing lights and buzzed haircuts sat the grumbling denizens of the westbound lane, frothing at the mouth, leaning on their horns, completely cut off from their road to freedom.

And there was the pole, lying on its side across the roadway, alone, light broken, scattered across the cold asphalt surrounded by machines and people. It was almost… sad.

But, that wasn’t what was fascinating to me about this cacophonous scene. This was not why I had turned into one of the things I hate most, a rubbernecker.

It was what the six men standing by the pole were doing:


They were gathered around it, staring at it. Looking at it like a football player looks at a tampon. Sure, they know what it is, they just don’t know what to do with it.

To me, it was obvious. "You grab over there, you grab there, and we swing it around until it’s no longer blocking traffic." Simple, right? Easy, right? That had to have occurred to them, right?

Apparently not. They just gathered around it, like a crime scene. I was waiting for someone to start doing a chalk outline.

“We’re pretty sure he purposefully jumped in front of traffic,” they would say in a police statement.

“We had fallen on some tough times,” his telephone pole wife would later say on the six o’clock news, while their son, a mile marker, wept silently in the background, “but I never thought he would resort to this.”

Life and death on the road. It affects us all.

In Memoriam…

Hugs and Handjobs,



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