Thursday, November 11, 2010

Traffic Patterns & Non Conformists

Standing outside the Harrison Hilltop Theatre tonight, I saw as entertaining a performance from the traffic that passed by on the busy one way street as I did at the production of which I'd just walked out.

We were milling about after the show, discussing politics as they related to the farce on the evenings playbill, The Complete History of America, Abridged. During our conversation a car cruised down the street, pulled out into the intersection, and realizing that he was halfway through the red light, froze, not sure whether to back up into oncoming traffic, or run the light.

I attempted to help him with that decision by beckoning him to simply drive on. At that point, he'd already violated the cease and desist order that the overhead signal had commanded. He shrugged and took my advice. We chuckled and then went back to our conversation.

A few moments later, a peculiar looking car came by. It was bedecked in what appeared to be Post-it-notes. As the car fluttered by, we all did a double take, then agreed that, yes, it must have been Post-its. It should be noted that we cannot verify that they were Post-it-notes, but if they were, that man will never forget where he's going.

We resumed our conversation.

Three minutes later, at the same stoplight, another car pulled into the intersection, then suffered an attack of indecision. Again, I waved the befuddled driver on, and they slowly rolled through the intersection, relieved to make it through unscathed and unarrested. We comment on how odd the traffic has been. Little did we know, it was about to get worse.

Not five minutes later, a woman turns onto Harrison from a side street, and commences to careen up the four lanes of the one way street, against the impending traffic. She must have reached 30 M.P.H before realizing that the massive flood of headlights bearing down on her was an indicator of the grave mistake she'd made. She veered off the by-way, but having no side street to relieve her, she instead opted for the grassy lawn of an elementary school. She sat there for a while, waiting for traffic to slow so she could integrate herself into the proper flow of cars and trucks. A few moments later, a police car pulled up along side her vehicle and blocked traffic, allowing her to sheepishly crawl back into traffic – this time traveling downstream.

This is where the story could have ended, if these two characters hadn't gotten stuck at the now infamous traffic signal directly north of our vantage point. As the woman and the police officer sat at the red light, we stood there and blatantly stared at the two parties. Was the officer going to pull her over for her inability to determine the flow of traffic? Was he going to let her off with the shame of her own malfeasance? The red light stretched on for hours as we discussed the possibilities, not trying to hide our vicarious engagement in this precarious event.

Finally the light changed and the woman timidly wheeled past us and attempted to turn off the main thoroughfare. Her eyes were locked on the road, arguably to avoid eye contact with the group of gawking on-lookers. She crawled onto the side street, careful not to make even the tiniest of mistakes.

Two seconds after she had passed, the officer meandered through the intersection in lukewarm pursuit. He glanced as us and, with a nod and a grin, flipped his lights on and rounded the corner, stopping the woman dead in her tracks.

The roar of laughter from our small contingency rivaled the guffaws of the show, but were so much heartier because the source of the humor was so real. It was so asinine, you can't make this stuff up.

So if you're ever on the corner of 16th street and Harrison street, and are looking for something to do, just look at the traffic. Countless hours of entertainment, and you'll never want to drive down Harrison Street again.

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