Sometimes there's no choice but to be patient. The guy behind me thought otherwise. He started with a couple of polite beeps. I looked in the rearview mirror. He was driving a late model sedan. The paint was weathered. His bumper was close to touching
Sometimes there’s no choice but to be patient.
The guy behind me thought otherwise. He started with a couple of polite beeps.
I looked in the rearview mirror. He was driving a late model sedan. The paint was weathered. His bumper was close to touching mine. He was middle aged and balding. He wore a T-shirt and his left arm hung out the window.
I looked at my dash. I had the air conditioner as low as it could go. The outside temperature was 93. The guy behind me must be cooking. I threw my hands up in an expression of hopelessness. I waited for a reaction, perhaps a similar expression of frustration. This time he let out a string of persistent beeps. He was starting to lose it. Was he missing an appointment, had there been an emergency, or had he lost his patience? I dismissed the thought of asking him.
There was nothing I could do. The diesel engine of the truck to my right hummed, the chassis vibrated. The driver had the window closed. For as far as I could see, everyone had their windows closed. Heat radiated off the long steel line.
I kept my eye on the blue trailer truck that was close to the crest of the hill ahead. It hadn’t moved in nine minutes. I looked back. For as far as I could see, sun reflected off windshields.
I’ve come to expect some stop-and-go traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike near Worcester and farther west where it joins Interstate 84. I was well beyond that. I was west of Springfield. The Berkshires weren’t all that far ahead. I was in Beckett, about 20 miles from the end of the turnpike.
Eastbound traffic was moving. There hadn’t been any fire trucks or ambulances, so it probably wasn’t an accident. Construction was an option, or maybe just the volume of traffic. There was no way of knowing, although I expect the truckers did.
I called my son Ted, who had left Rhode Island 90 minutes later. He was in the Worcester traffic but doing a steady 45. I said I would let him know what to expect as soon as I learned what was causing the holdup.
Without explanation, we started to move. I watched the speedometer. I was doing 30. What a relief. Just as quickly, the brake lights ahead flashed red. The guy behind me leaned on his horn. I looked in the mirror, waving his arm and flashing his finger at the world. My foot ached. I put the car in park and thought of getting out and stretching. I watched the clock. This time it was 18 minutes.
An orange beach ball appeared in the half-open window of an old Dodge Caravan ahead. Kids inside were batting it about. That didn’t last too long. Moments later, a pair of arms held out a sheet of paper. I strained to read it but it was too far ahead.
The guy behind me wasn’t amused. There were a few more protest beeps. He activated his flashers and pulled into the grassy median barely wide enough for his car. One set of wheels was on the pavement, the other kicked up grass and dirt. He was moving. We weren’t. We were miles from an exit. This had to be still Beckett. I couldn’t imagine where he was going. Then I spotted his objective – an access road to the eastbound traffic. Tires spinning, he reached the cut-through, turned onto the eastbound lane and gunned it.
I gave Ted another call, but he didn’t answer. He must be at a service area, taking a break.
My lane crept ahead. The right lane started moving, too. I was catching up to the Caravan. In bold letters, the sign read “WAVE,” and a pair of young smiling young girls waved back.
My frustration melted away. We continued moving this time. The lanes narrowed at the Lee exit, but there was no active construction. There were no signs of an accident.
I stayed in the passing lane. The Caravan caught up. The windows were closed, the sign gone. But I waved a “thank you” anyway.