I was busy in the kitchen, baking some cherry pies, when I heard that old song again… no, not the one about Billy Boy and the “young thing who cannot leave her mother.”
The song that interrupted my culinary reverie grates on the nerves every time I hear it, four or five times a night: it’s the song of tires squealing on tarmac as another jerk pulls away from the four-way stop like he’s trying out for the Mission Raceway.
But this time, our wannabe dragster added a refrain less frequently heard, a verse that stops the heart for a beat or two.
After the rubber-burning squeal came a frantic screech punctuated by a loud bang.
As I have done several times before, I threw on my garden shoes and ran out to the corner, ready to render assistance at the intersection of bad luck and poor judgment.
The luck wasn’t as bad as it sometimes is: a dented car, some property damage, but no injuries.
Not everyone at that intersection has fared as well.
The corner, it seems, has been a hot spot for calamity since long before I took up residence in its vicinity. My mailbox (before it was my mailbox) was once taken into police custody as a material witness in a fatal drinking-and-driving incident.
I suppose the intersection’s propensity for engagement with drivers with more confidence than brains was behind the decision some years ago to install a flashing red light to offer warning of the approach of potential tribulation.
Red flashing lights are just one way of compensating for a shortage of roadway responsibility. But at least it’s one of the cheaper forms.
When drivers insist on roaring through quiet neighbourhoods or over roads designed for slower transit, we spend major dollars to fix the roads, providing traffic-calming devices which those same drivers can blame instead of speed for their subsequent crashes or vehicle damage.
When people ignore signs warning drivers to slow down because an approaching corner is particularly dangerous and should be approached… well… more slowly, insufficient effort to stay on the road stops being the problem, and the blame is shifted to the corner itself.
We sometimes pay millions of dollars to smooth out a corner… so errant drivers can leave the road at greater speeds.
And as luck would have it, those cherry pies didn’t work out terribly well, either.