Monday, April 23, 2007

Insanity Is the Mother of Invention

I'm heading north on the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday afternoon. Traffic is stop-and-go between Exits 5 and 8A, where the highway mercifully doubles in lanes. Somewhere around Exit 7A, traffic turns bumper-to-bumper. I'm in the left lane, alternating between a dead stop and inching forward with the foot off the brake. Half a dozen cars in front of me, I see a kid in his late teens/early twenties dash across the emergency lane to the left and deftly leap up onto the concrete divider in the Turnpike's median. He stands atop the barrier for a moment, facing toward the southbound lanes, and then does a full reverse somersault, landing on his feet in the emergency lane, before scampering back to his car.

At first, I chided his foolish act. A dare? A PCP-fueled freakout? The latest "extreme" sport? No matter. Even though the pimply oaf performed his stunt without dashing his tiny brain all over turnpike blacktop, I chuckled contemptuously at his idiocy.

But after several moments of reflection, I applauded this young daredevil's act. Traffic jams are so draining; they can suck all the enjoyment out of a good day, ruining a pleasurable afternoon or killing the mood before its even begun. Yet here was a public performer entertaining throngs of frustrated, immobile travelers at no charge, coloring our lost moments with a memorable semi-suicidal act. If only more asphalt artistes would take to congested thorofares and ease motorists' pain with their roadside lunacy. Highway commissions would do well to employ concrete-barrier gymnasts, exit-ramp fan-dancers, and mile-marker comedians along traffic-prone routes. Road-rage incidents could be cut dramatically, and complacent state governments would finally be doing more than committing highway robbery with our tax dollars. Let's face it: in our overly crowded society, we Americans spend too much of our all-too-brief lives caught on choked roadways, cussing up a storm on the road to hypertension and peptic ulcers. It's time for the Department of Transportation to give us a brake.


Pat said...

Apparently you didn't get the memon about car insurance discounts for acrobats.

Randy said...

Actually, I did. But I have no trust or confidence in auto-insurance companies. Neanderthals telling me which auto insurance to use? Hmmpff. If those cavemen are so wise, how come they went from dominant human species to three survivors? They never even invented the wheel—car insurance ain’t worth a helluva lot on a wheel-less car!

And a gecko? Hey, the only lizard I listen to is King Crimson’s Lizard (which, incidentally, contains a 14-minute, multi-part opus on auto insurance):

“Carless and Liable Black”

I. Third Party of a Perfect Policy (including The Waiver I Gave Her)

II. Dirge of the Greedy Underwriters
i. The Talking Lien
ii. Blood Suckers and Claims Adjusters (One in the Same)

III. Through No-Fault Insurance of Your Own

IV. PIP’s Great Expectations
i. Raise High Yon Premiums
ii. Torts and Tarts
iii. Uninsured and Somewhat Slightly Liable

V. March of the Ever-Increasing Deductibles