Saturday, October 10, 2009

My road has a new yellow line

Two days ago, I turned off of the state road and onto my local road to find that it had entered the 20th Century: there was a yellow line down the middle. As I drove the half mile to my dirt (always will be) drive, in the almost-dark, I thought:
  • Who decided we need this, anyway?
  • This is a good idea. It will keep the 6 am trucks from running me off the road. It will give the older drivers a line to orient their left front tires to.
  • It won't be visible in the winter.
  • NO ONE ASKED ME about this change!
  • White would have been been better.
  • What's the purpose of this change?
In one spot, our line is not even down the middle; it wiggles way over to the left, as if the driver of the line truck had to suddenly swerve to avoid a branch or a deer. Coming the other way, I have to drive well into a sloping gravel shoulder and risk scraping against exposed ledge - if I want to keep to the line, anyway.

Now that I am one of those "older" drivers, I am prone to inconsistency. When there is a small surprise of light or scenery, I slow down to absorb it. When there is a place to go and a time to get there, I speed up. I watch for dogs, deer and neighbors mowing. I know the habits of the low tide wormers and the sound of an oncoming truck too wide for a line. I have never had or caused an accident on my road, something that can not be said of the majority of its regular drivers.

In my own mind, I have already painted a yellow line, which, for the most part, I keep to. So why do I care about this one?

Because its purpose is to hold me to a standard that I don't need. Because it beckons me to an ending that I won't find - in fact, it leads to a loop road - I follow the line and come back the way I came. Because it promises me good things - safety and consistency - with promises that it can not keep. (How can you trust a line that wiggles?) And because it exists only because there are too many drivers that need it. That makes me angriest, and saddest, of all.

It's just a matter of time before some young whipper-snapper in a hurry and secure in her side of the road follows that wiggle and drives me into to the rock wall. I feel her coming. I go too slow for her, too fast, spend too much time watching the light on the water. I am in the way.

Yes, as change in educational policy begins to draw a line in our district, I am wondering how well I will be able to keep to the line. And I wonder where it will swerve from center and what color it will be - green for go, yellow for caution, red for passion, or white for bland and blind. I sense that I am going to be in the way.

I don't care. Not caring is one of the perks of being an older driver. I know this about that line - it will wear away. I give it two winters. And when its gone, I will still have my inner line, and I can make it any color at all and as wiggly as it needs to be.

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