Waiting for the Drawbridge
(a humorous article)
Richard F. Corrigan
WAITING FOR THE DRAWBRIDGE — published in the October/November issue of Water’s Edge Magazine a subsidiary of The Florida Times-Union — 2001
I could only guess why the man behind me was upset. Through my rearview mirror, I could see him grabbing hold of the steering wheel, squeezing it, pushing it away, pointing, then holding his arms out, palms open as if beckoning someone for the answer to a question. He looked like he was speaking vehemently, but I could not hear him. I am sure he felt victimized. He probably had some very important plans.
The woman in the passenger’s seat just sat stoically next to him: expressionless, eyes fixed straight ahead.
I looked ahead and into the car in front of me. I could see a man fumbling with something in his front seat, maybe his briefcase. He looked at his hand-held cell phone and pressed a button. Within seconds, he was waving his hand. He reached down to the seat and lifted a pad of paper. He held it in the air and looked as if he was reading from it. He was using the delay as an opportunity.
Suddenly, he slapped the pad against the dashboard. His head and shoulders moved together from side to side and front to back as if he had fused discs in his spinal column. He seemed irritated. Unexpectedly, from the right lane, crossing in front of the opportunist, dashed a small green car whose driver, her head bridled, her face red, looked determined to escape the two-lane parking lot and otherwise forgo further delay. She made a U-turn and headed in the opposite direction. She was definitely attempting a circumnavigation, not with Magellan’s lofty purpose, but with theoretically similar intentions: to go around whatever was in the way. Presently, at this location, no one was traveling.
Moving forward to take her place was a young girl who didn’t seem to mind the delay as long as she could smoke a cigarette and blast her car radio. She had one of those tubes that sits in the trunk of the car and, into the private homes of residents along its route, forces the pounding sounds of the bass guitar and drums.
She appeared self-absorbed. She didn’t care about the opportunist trying to conduct business from his mobile office, or the stoic, or the victim gesticulating now more than ever. She was living for the beat of the song and another drag on her cigarette.
Next to me, in the passenger’s seat of a car dwarfed only by a stretch limousine, sat a social butterfly. As I glanced over, she smiled a plastic sort of smile. Her teeth were as white as a brand new crayon still in the box. Though she snapped her head from side to side, looking around to see who might see her, and stretching her neck to see into every car, it did not move even a strand of her lacquered hair.
Her driver was an escape artist. He had been stationary for only five minutes and he was sound asleep. His head was resting on his headrest and propped with his hand, his elbow resting on the door. His mouth was open. I could hear him snoring.
I looked up ahead at what had caused the delay.
I guess, in this day and age, when time is such a valuable commodity, not having to wait to cross a bridge because of some on-vacation sail-boater who wants to float out to sea, it might make sense to get rid of the old dinosaur and replace it with a solid, higher sleeker newer model. Then traffic could race past the beaches, the rolling waves, the ocean mist, the seagulls, egrets, herons, pelicans, and lovers walking hand in hand along the shore.
But, I like the dinosaur. I enjoy the sound of the ocean kissing the rocks near the bluff when I’m forced to stop on bridge. I feel sad for those whose life-journey races them past that which gives the journey its worth.
The old bridge forces humans to enjoy its surroundings. Stop and see the ocean always moving, rolling, waving, and lapping. Hear the birds as they fly in and out of the trusses. Smell the fish as they gather to feed, rising to the water’s surface. Feel the ocean mist on your face. Taste the salt air.
A new bridge will be a selfish bridge. Don’t stop. Don’t see. Don’t listen. Don’t smell. Don’t feel. Don’t taste. Just — keep — moving.
The old bridge eventually became one with the road, and the traffic up ahead began to move.
I watched as the escapist opened his eyes and yawned; the socialite smiled, winked, and then pulled down her sun-visor mirror to check her makeup. The egocentric flicked away her cigarette, rolled up her window, cranked up the music — my chest began to vibrate — and drove off.
I thought of the circumnavigator who, by now, still had forty-five minutes to go to be where we were going to be in five. The opportunist continued to talk on his cell phone as he inched his car forward. I looked into my rearview mirror at the stoic. Throughout the whole delay, I’m not sure she ever even blinked. And then there was the victim. And although his image was backward, the words, “Come on,” came straight at me.