Friday, February 14, 2020

Life in the Awfully Slow Lane

Google Street View
Traveling from where I work (Sarge Workland is what I calls it) to where I live (Sarge Homeland, as it follows from the former, or vice versa) on Wednesday last, I was embroiled in a uncommon occurrence in these parts, a traffic jam. Also known as, New Englanders behaving badly while operating a motor vehicle. Though I am a native New Englander, I don't have a very high opinion of driving skills throughout the six New England states. Keep in mind, I did live in Germany for seven and a half years where traffic moves with a certain Teutonic crispness and efficiency.

Anyhoo. See that opening photo? Yes? Well, right about where that light patch of pavement is in the left foreground there was a disabled vehicle Wednesday last, right about 1700 hours local. As it's a two lane bridge, one lane was blocked, the northbound lane as it were. The lane I wished to use to travel home in an expeditious manner, which wasn't happening this Wednesday last.

I don't know how that vehicle came to rest on that portion of the bridge, nor did I really care. It turned my twenty minute commute into nearly an hour. Was it an accident (they happen), a simple mechanical breakdown (yup, those happen too), or did the operator simply run out of fuel (rare, but it does happen)? Don't know, when I finally passed the vehicle it was too dark to discern any damage and, not wanting to slow down and gawk, which far too many yahoos do, I proceeded briskly on my way.

Now as I sat here -

My approximate view when I came upon a line of stopped vehicles.
Google Street View
I couldn't help but picture this scene in my head -

Yeah, yeah, I know. When I first saw the picture I felt really bad for the mules and the Italian guy with the wagon. After all they were his mules. But for reasons of military necessity, Patton did the right thing. (Just prior to this scene the column stalled at the bridge had been strafed by German aircraft, and the wagon and mules were preventing Patton's troops from driving the Nazis and the Fascists off the island of Sicily. Real Nazis and Fascists, not the kind who are only figments of the "social justice" generation's fevered imaginations.)

So yeah, toss that car off the freaking bridge, Sarge wants to get home! (No doubt I would feel differently had it been my car stuck on the bridge.)

Of course, there was also substantial ranting and raving going on at the seeming disregard the local constabulary had for restoring the flow of traffic. Shouldn't that be one of their jobs? (Not just ticketing people for going 10 over the limit, or not wearing seat belts, or talking on their cell phone while driving, that last being a legal "no no" in Little Rhody.) Let me set the situation for ya.

Google Maps
Let me explain the map. The red circle on the bridge marks the location of the disabled vehicle, the yellow circles at either end of the bridge are intersections with traffic lights. The orange path over the bridge (which is 3,000 feet long mind you) is the only path off the north end of The Island (aka Aquidneck Island, technically Rhode Island, and what the inhabitants call "The Island"). This is Sarge's only path (without going about ten miles out of my way) to go from Sarge Workland to Sarge Homeland. The light blue path is the standard path to the bridge, the path which most Little Rhodians and Massholes (hey, they call themselves that) take, it has a slower speed limit, and more traffic, than the green path, which is what I call the Sarge Route. (Of course.) (The yellow circle on the Sarge Route is where I sat, immobilized, for a good forty-five minutes.)

Now at the scene of the accident there were two members of the local constabulary directing traffic. One about fifty feet north of the disabled vehicle, t'other the same distance south of said vehicle. Now, do you see the yellow circle on the map where the blue, green, and orange lines intersect? That's this intersection -

To the left is the Sarge Route, to the right is the Everybody Else Route. Now the traffic lights seem to be set up so that the Everybody Else Route has preference. It is the major source of traffic going north to the bridge, so it kinda makes sense. Me, having taken the road less traveled, was stuck with a lower priority signal.

Now the coppers can't really see anything past those lights. They had no freaking clue that traffic on the Sarge Route was backed up by at least a half mile, that I could see from my position. They were just playing "you go, now you go" with the traffic actually on the bridge, paying no attention to traffic behind those traffic signals. Note that when there is construction on the bridge, the workers take those two paths onto the bridge into account. The cops don't. Their focus is getting the disabled vehicle off the bridge. I understand that, but this ape-lizard found it most annoying.

Where I nearly lost my shit was when I got to the light, I can see the bridge, I'm almost there, then the bloody signal turns red, the guy in front of me (in true Little Rhodian fashion) runs the red light, me, Mr Good Citizen, stops. Fuming, naturellement.

Finally my light goes green, I pull out and promptly have some Neanderthal in a YUGE pickup truck, coming from the Everybody Else Route decide to run the red light and challenge me for the roadway. As we're both going about 5 MPH, there is no danger of collision, it's an elephant race. Which I "won." Sumbitch blew his horn at me! Yes, I was all set to go full road rage and end his lineage. But then again, I had won the race, I was ahead of him. So the ape-lizard in me went back to sleep. No harm, no foul. I did not toss any obscene gestures in his general direction. He knew, yes, he knew, that he had been defeated.

When I finally arrived at Chez Sarge I was still a bit miffed, damn it, it took an hour to get home, not the more typical twenty minutes. Then it struck me, so what? I mean I was home wasn't I, I wasn't broken down on some bridge waiting for a tow truck. So I had that going for me. Of course, I couldn't help but think of that Great Sage of the Plains, the Wise Man of The Flat Water, ya know Shaun.
We ape-lizards are not nearly as advanced as we like to think. We've only been "civilized" for at most several thousand years. We have not evolved even a tiny bit from the ape-lizards who watched the glaciers retreat 15,000 years ago. We are exactly the same.
If we have a future to evolve into, the core principal of that evolution will be the Golden Rule. (Source)
 So I need to learn to CALM THE FIRE TRUCK DOWN. I'll live longer...

 Yup, more headers...

That should about cover it, though it would be cool to somehow work this into a header...

Hhmm, I've mentioned this before...
Those guys never got back to me, clannish these Rhodians be.
Might lend a little dignity to things.

Or not...

Oh, here's that Gruel Foundry we were talking about...

That stuff is hot coming right off the stove!

Now back on your heads, coffee break's over.


  1. Now back on your heads, coffee break's over. Great old joke. Brings back memories of my former workplace. 'Tis wonderful to be retired these last six years............

    1. I'm looking forward to retirement, more so with each passing day.

    2. One of the nicest things about retirement? Not driving every day. I am significantly less bothered by traffic now than in work days, and I am not so Mario Andretti about getting there.

      Like, I walk outside and see my van and I don't dread seeing it. It only takes me to some icky places, never to an unending hell of stress and rear-sphincter-muscles. And I don't have to drive into or out of bad sections of town and traffic. Heck, I can even choose to go to those places rather than being forced to go to those places.

      Then there's shopping. I can now do a week's worth of shopping or a month's worth at one time, I'm not so dead at the end of the day that I only buy one or two days' worth of food stuffs. (I make one grand trip, to Wallyworld, to Sams and to Publix, once a month. Otherwise I try to restrict going out for food stuffs to once a week for replenishables like fruit and milk and other things. So a good month, without Dr visits, means I leave the house and hop in the van a total of 5-6 times. Whooo... fast living.)

    3. It's very sedate and rested you are.

      Bear in mind, life in my little piece of Little Rhody is rather suburban/rural. Not much stress involved in the daily commute, normally. It makes those days like the one in the post really stand out.

  2. Early man had to dodge smilodons and American lions while we get to dodge yahoos in one ton pickups who think they're the owners of the road. Since I got my carry permit I've become much more polite and less prone to open my yap. Seems there's less stress in remaining calm, at least for me. Another very nice group of headers........Thanks Sarge! Good to see that orange!

    1. Yahoos in one ton pickups, yes a plague they are.

      Well, I missed the Coast Guard AND the Marine Corps in my first go 'round. Surprised I'm still alive!

    2. Down here the yahoos are the ones in Prius's. I had to visit Lowes yesterday ("had to", yeah right!). Coming out and heading home, was about 4 cars back from the end of a funeral of about 50 cars. Took a while to get into the cemetery. Traffic backed up significantly. Finally we could proceed. I was behind two pickups and then a Prius. It's a two lane road, and traffic is backed up both ways. Pickups accelerate up to 70. Prius proceeds all the way to 50 mph. She holds that speed all the way til we get to one of the two passing zones between Lowes and my house. Then she accelerates to 75.

      Yes, Sarge, I explored the limits of the Eco-Boost on my engine. As did several others behind me. She had Texas plates, but the dealer label on the car read Van Nuys.

    3. Cali-texan driver will find out that Priuses have little to no resistance to deer, and occupants fair not so well when Priuses meet deers. Or armadillos. Or snakes. Or Pickup Trucks....


      Over here we have some obnoxious socialist toad who drives a Tesla roadster. At 5mph under the speed limit no matter what the limit is.

      How do we know person is an obnoxious socialist toad? It has 'Bernie 2020' splattered all over the rear end.

      Only an obnoxious socialist toad would put a bumper sticker on a $150K car.

    4. Ah, the perils of the Prius driven by an idiot leftist.

      Why do those people "flee" California, when in reality they're just spreading the virus? Ee-jits!

    5. Beans - Have you seen the articles about Tesla stock prices? Reminds me of the dot-com days. Money spent on vaporware and hope.

    6. Good Suggestion, Sarge! We quarantine the state and only let people emigrate that can recite the preamble to the Constitution (and give a decent listing of the Bill of Rights) and the First Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Those can proceed and welcome brother. Failures are turned back after being tattooed on the forehead with a Hammer and Sickle. For a while, they'd think they were Some F'in Body. Until it all crashed around them.

      Just me...bein' charitable...again.

    7. Much like with Novel Coronavirus 2019, quarantine is too late. Too many infected have already left. Thus you get Austin, Denver, Portland, New Mexico.

  3. Gruel factory.
    In the lower left hand corner, there are two workers cranking the crane, and the left hand worker is wearing what appears to be a military helmet of some type.
    At bit of digging later I find the painting titled, "The Iron Foundry, Burmeister and Wain" was done in 1885 by the Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer.
    The Danish factory is still in existence.
    The helmet looks a bit like a French Adrian helmet, but the date of the painting is long before the Adrian helmet came into use.
    I understand that it's a painting and not a photo, but I still want to know about the helmet because AR and OCD.
    It first caught my eye because it's the only item of safety gear visible in the painting.

    Commute. My everyday commuting uniform includes the campaign ribbon for driving on I-95 through downtown Philly every work day for just under thirty years. I understand where you are coming from, and not commuting on I-95 is a major joy of being retired.

    Nice headers, and good post. (Google translate thinks "I want gruel" is "Jeg vil have vild" my Danish language skills are zero.)

    1. Now I know your biggest interest John, old factories. (Good job on tracking down those pics. Both factories still operating, pretty cool.)

      My commute is usually pretty tame, I don't go anywhere near Providence at rush hour if I can avoid it. Still, that's nothing compared to the traffic you guys see around Philly. (Experienced that once.) Nor the 5 out California way, done that a couple of times.

      Not sure if that's a helmet on that fellow on the far left, looks like it could be a soft hat of some sort.

      Note how that one boss is wearing a top hat!

    2. I-5 has fun spots up and down the West.
      They only call it “The Five” in Dodgerland.
      It runs past here about five miles to the west.
      The Sacramento traffic begins somewhere just south of here and affects nearly every northbound artery from about 6am to noon and from noon to 8pm, seven days a week.
      Some folks say it’s mini LA.
      They, obviously have never been to LA.

    3. I've heard it called the Five in Sandy Eggo as well. Which would be Padre-land, I guess. What do I know? I'm an Easterner.

      LA has to be experienced to be believed, don't want to do that again!

  4. Ya hit a home run with me on the VP6 P-3 photo Sarge. There is a good chance I was on that airplane when the picture was taken. I remember being on a couple of photo flights back then. The Blue Shark tail flash had recently been re-designed by a LT in the squadron and we needed pictures.

    1. Well the shark flash drew me in. Pretty cool that you might have been on that bird.

  5. When the day comes that you retire and you don't have to make that drive, you're going to love it! I used to drive 65 miles one way to the college every day and it was through the busiest area of the Kansas City metro called "The Triangle" (the intersection of I-435, I-49 & I-470). Mornings weren't too bad because I would go through there about 0530 but had to go through there on the way home about 1700. Most days it reminded me of I-5 through LA. Those were the times when I would dream of commuting in an M1 Abrams! Anyhoo, more great headers!!

    1. I've driven past KC, traffic was yuck. I was on my way south from Omaha.

  6. Oh, cool, Aluminuminum Overcast.

    Haven’t flown on that one. Yet. I’ve taken the ground tour, though.

  7. Sarge - methinks you are a bit blessed with a) 6+ years of driving in Germany b) a normally short commute with enjoyable scenery. But I understand - traffic tie ups are very aggravating. I'll agree with others that not having a rigid commute time is one of the joys of retirement - might a few more tie ups like the one described tilt your decision as to your own retirement? :-)

    I have often thought that being able to drive like the folks in the linked clip would bring great joy to my soul!

    The headers are all great - have you thought about embedding a short video as a header? For example, maybe a view of the LCS sailing along then quickly cutting to one of the WWII clips of a ship being torpedoed, as a way of expressing feelings about the LCS?

    Hope everyone has a great weekend!

    1. Great video clip!

      I don't think Blogger allows videos in the header, but I'll look. Though I doubt LCS would ever get anywhere near a Chant header.

      Just sayin'. 😉

    2. I thought you'd maybe enjoy seeing a Mark 48 detonate under the keel of one! :-)

  8. The youngsters can keep their frou-frou lab grown wonder gruel. Give me good ol' foundry gruel every time. Especially the chewy bits from the bottom of the pot!

    Last evening as I prepared to pull out of my driveway I had to wait almost 40 seconds for six vehicles to pass by. I know intellectually that such a thing is exactly nothing to most people in the country, yet it still had the ape-lizard ready to start throwing stone axes. Sometimes I wonder if my own personal evolution isn't regressing smartly.

    That Intruder came out of the Iron Works in June, 1969 as an A and was immediately converted to a Charlie for nighttime truck busting on the Uncle Ho Memorial Tollway. Later it was brought up to Echo standards and finally TRAM'ed. It had 6097 flight hours, 1119 cats and 1125 traps. Today it's slowly rotting away under the sea at the Daytona Intruder Reef. Taxpayer's got their money's worth. Hand Salute.

    Fun post!

  9. Ah, yes. The joys of driving in Germany. "Teutonic crispness and efficiency." Agreed. Rather enjoyed it myself. I regularly drove one of these over there--

    --although ours was the earlier gas model. I got quite adept a driving in traffic if I do say so myself. When I got home to my dad's place in the Oakland, CA hills, I hopped back into my POV--

    It felt like traffic was moving in slow motion. It was about three months before anyone would ride with me.

    Happy to report that my last commute was a joy. 20 minute run from Chico to Oroville, CA circa 2012 to here--

    --as in Fred Huntington, the guy who founded RCBS reloading.

    Hardly any traffic, and always some sort of wildlife to observe. The birds of the west coast flyway are a sight to behold in winter. All the mounted heads you see in the video were taken by by Huntington family over many decades all over the world. Some of those heads would carry hefty fines these days. At the 0:59 mark, you enter the museum at the back of the store.

    Civilization--One of my college professors once told the class that his measure was how many layers between your food and bare earth. Plate, place mat, table----.

    1. Interesting measure of civilization. I won't disagree!

    2. That M109 would make a dandy deer camp vehicle or off-road camper.


      I've seen one guy that has a WWII version of one that still has the shop equipment in it. And he goes to reenactments and... fixes things. Nice guy. Bit weird. But nice guy. He spent far more tracking down the correct equipment to fill the WWII deuce-and-a-half than he did restoring the vehicle. Which he did using... the equipment he tracked down (along with other stuff, like a roof mounted gantry crane, forklift, front end loader (makes for a handy jack, from the pictures I saw...)

    3. I do love the folks who try and do it all authentic-like, yeah, they can be "different."

  10. As stated above somewhere, I am glad to not be driving the rat-race. One of the many joys of no longer going the distance for dinero.

    Nice header collection. I do suggest a pic or two from some famous embroidery for October 14th. If you can manage it. That date really marks the eventual end of Napoleon. Eventually...

  11. Traffic jams frustrate me no end.
    If the car in front of me is impeding my travel, I am in a traffic jam.
    Imagine, if you will, what it is like to relocate from a community of about 10,000 whose nearest neighbor has about 79,000 souls, and there only a total of around 180,000 in the entire county, to a city (albeit a small one) of 180,000 with an odentity crisis.
    Just recently the traffic signals were adjusted to facilitate the efficient movement of east-west traffic through town.
    Now, because of the set up of the intersections on the cross streets, it takes two cycles of the signal (which have been lengthened) where it used to only take one to enter the road.
    Toss in the folks driving kids to and from the two schools in the neighborhood in the mornings and afternoons and it can take even longer to get on the road.

    Not that I didn’t have traffic gripes when I lived up north.
    They were nothing compared with here.
    I will accept what I’ve got because the convenience still outweighs the inconvenience.

    I find, too, expressing my dissatisfaction, disappointment, whatever, aloud, followed by, “There, now I feel better” works wonders for the stress level.

    1. Sometimes I will catch myself in mid-rant with a realization of things could be far worse. I ain't in Afghanistan for one.

      Perspective helps, but yeah, it does make ya feel better.

  12. The guys in red on the white chargers is the one. No more calls, we have a winner........

  13. Jebus, Sarge. Asked for a pic of the Connie just yesterday, and there it is! I was a floater. Flew with every crew. I have flown on that bird. The nose number on the pic in my den is 11. Thanks. Means a lot.

    1. Well, I did put a rush on that one. Loves me some Connie!

  14. To the few, it was The 5 and The 405 but never the 10 or the 8.
    What? No Mustangs, no Spitfires or Hurricanes.

    Could be I missed them what with these new glasses that make reading a real pain in the eye.

    1. There was one with a P-51 and a Spit, cuppla days ago, here.

      I'm still looking for the right Battle of Britain header, with a Hurricane.

      New glasses, I feel your pain.

    2. Screen shot from movie of same name will give you Hurries and Spits, maybe a Messer or two.

    3. The quality ain't that good, not to mention the whole copyright thing. Been there, done that...

  15. I was looking at your post and thought "Hey that looks like the Mt Hope Bridge." I read on and yup that's what it was. Yes driving in Rhode Island (and even mores so in Mass) brings its own special challenges. Like waiting 3 seconds after lights turn green to make sure some yahoo isn't blasting thru the red. But I left that all behind only to find out that the oldest and worst of the New England drivers are exported to Florida every winter. Yay for me.

    1. Hahaha! That's where they go, Florida.

      You know your Rhode Island bridges. 😁

  16. (Don McCollor)...Nothing teaches patience like driving in rural MN or ND. Driving down a gravel road and three combines pull onto it up ahead - going down the two miles of road at 5 mph with their headers overhanging the ditches on either side. Just pull over and pour yourself a cup of coffee...

    1. Yup, that trumps anything you see around here.

    2. Driving combines can be 'entertaining' as well. Summer of my senior year, I worked for our local John Deere dealer assembling new farm equipment. Delivered more than one new combine driving on two lane roads--fortunately flat farm country and (mostly) straight roads. A few times the trip involved a short jog on the main highway. Managed to arrive without a collection of mailboxes and a VeeDub Beetle gathered up in the header.

  17. Outsider from the city-life perspective here, seeing as how I'm in South Dakota, but a question presented itself: Does nobody else carry a tow strap along with their jumper cables and first aid kit in the back of the car? Or, you ever notice how those police cruisers have push bars on the front bumper? Well, what's the better option, standing in traffic waving your arms trying to marshal commuters over a now-single-lane bridge or tell the operator to put it in neutral, ride the brake a bit, and push the obstacle out of the way? This, folks, is the problem we need to combat. Not the traffic lights, not the speed limits, it's the lack of being prepared and having the audacity to exercise some free will and problem-solving skills, offer a hand, and get that impediment out of the way. We used to do that for each other. We used to know how to do that. Now we sit and wait for a tow truck and endanger ourselves because it's not our job.

    1. Yes, I've got all those in the back of my car, along with a tarp, bungee cords, a blanket, work gloves, warm gloves and wool hat and a rain proof warm jacket. I have been known to pull over and offer assistance, but I will give them a good looking over and go with my instincts. I don't disagree with your last few sentences though.

    2. Unknown - I think you're onto something there.

      But it would drive the state legislators and insurance people bat shit crazy here in the East.

      When I was a kid, it was like that though, people helping each other.

    3. Juvat - Living in the more settled regions of the country, you don't see much of that.

      Kinda sad...


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