Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cursing (in) the Darkness, Sitting at the Light

It's early when I go to work, not as early as when my brother Adam heads out, and by the time I do he's gotten most of the chickens fed and the cows milked, which works out well for me since my employment efforts are confined mostly to the mess the back ends make.

At the foot of Washington Street, which is also a state highway whose number, even after almost 18 years here, I cannot remember, right next to the church with a sign that once advised, "Life is Short, Pray Hard" at the intersection with the Sweeney Bridge, is a traffic signal that captures relationships in and with The Rose City.

The light sits at the junction of a "T". Those coming down the hill who go right AND those coming up the hill who go left, all head in the same direction over the bridge onto what becomes Route 82 (I think). Maybe that's what happened to Norwich-everyone went for a drive and drove over the one-way bridge and never came back because they can't. Whoa! Talk about 'Norwich is moving forward.' The traffic signal is a beacon and often a vexation and, I suspect not for me alone, a cause for some head-shaking.

No matter the hour, this traffic signal is on duty--no blinking light, red for us and yellow for the other folks. No pause and go-no roll on through and have a nice day. Nope, nada. It works 24/7 every day of the year. Once, during a truly awful snow storm it was a blinking light (red in both directions-that was very helpful, especially for those struggling to get up the hill) but only that one snowstorm. I wasn't sure what to make of the state snow plows NOT heeding the red blinking light as they blew right on through it, so I decided I imagined it (I'll bet you didn't know there's a difference between city snow and state snow.Yepper). I'm not going to mention, come to think of it, that the light was blinking last Saturday evening for the fireworks at the Harbor and for many hours thereafter, because that's just crazy talk.

Again, as always, yesterday morning the traffic signal was red when I reached it. It's not on a sensor and if it's on a timer, it's more of a calendar than a clock, based on my experience. My red signal lasted five and a half minutes at five fourteen in the morning (Yes, my life is that empty that I timed it. In fairness, it's NOT always that long, so add consistency to the list of quirks.).The part I find funny is at the time of day I'm there, it's not unusual to NOT see another vehicle for the entire time I'm at the light. Yesterday was a bit weird when the walk/don't walk signal came on, and there were NO pedestrians. For a moment I thought I saw a barbecue, but that would have been quite a feat...so I'll imagine I thought I saw a 'puddy tat.'

Eventually (of course) the signal changed, otherwise I'd be trying to type this on a cell phone (and be cited for violating CT's hands-free law) and I had f-i-f-t-e-e-n seconds of green light (that amount of time is a constant; go figure). I've driven the street at all times of the day and every day of week and it's not always like that so I have to wonder why, at oh-bright-early it can't be blinking. I'm counting on, eventually, the bulb(s) in the signal, mine (red) and the oncoming (green), just burning out and motorists can then drive happily ever after or until they reach the next intersection at the Laurel Hill Bridge.
-bill kenny

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