Sunday, August 09, 2009

Blanche DuBois Drives A Car

I was coming back from visiting a lawyer friend downtown. The interstate sweeps in a big curve over Southwest Boulevard at the state line. As it rounds the corner, the on-ramp from Cambridge Circle runs parallel to the right lane of the interstate and becomes the off-ramp for Rainbow Boulevard. There is no merge lane. There is no exit. Only a long fourth lane. A person coming up the ramp from Cambridge Circle has almost a half-mile to match speeds with the interstate traffic and switch one lane to the left as the fourth lane becomes an exit only at Rainbow.

As I came around the curve a young woman in a nice older model Toyota occupied the on-ramp from Cambridge. As the two lanes paralleled, she sat in a position just ahead and to the right, her trunk alongside my right front tire, separated only by the flicker of the white line marking the lanes.

Now, I figure she needs to move over one lane. Most people entering at Cambridge do. All that was required was for the nice young woman to ease off the gas for a fraction of a second (or speed up a little, I wasn’t going very fast), create a separation between our cars, signal, and safely change her lane.

For a full fifteen seconds we traveled as a twosome in tango, all the while thinking that the lane-changer would sensibly avoid the collision through a proper adjustment of speed. But no. There we stayed, not a dance step between us.

Maybe she would depart at Rainbow. Maybe we would collide. Maybe it was time to do something else. Nervously, I let my partner go. I slowed.

She moved ahead and over into my lane, oblivious of her escape from danger. Merging into traffic, it seems to her, must always depend upon the kindness of strangers.

I fumed about this the rest of the way home and told the story to my wife. She smiled, the way that wise Latina women smile, and explained that I had just lost at Chicken.