Thursday, July 21, 2005

Highway Wreath

Almost every day I take Interstate 55 heading north to get to work. Some days the ride is smooth. Other days it's a mess. Thousands of people gather for the common purpose of flowing in the veins of an economic system in which we work and then give and take money from each other. It’s possible that the bills in my pocket will someday end up with the person driving next to me. I'd like to roll down my window and give him the money now. Thankfully, I can't, because we're separated by sheets of metal and caste status evinced by the brand plates on the backs and fronts of the cars. It is, in many ways, a portrait of the modern world: an impersonal élan despite crowded proximity. Our radios and cd’s add to the separateness, putting virtual miles and culture between me and the guy next to me in a blue BMW. If the traffic is at a standstill and we hear sirens of emergency vehicles up ahead, our disposition alters a bit. At first we’re annoyed, but then the annoyance subsides when we sense the severity up front. Our humanity starts to show. Then relief enters the sensory mix. We don’t move for a while, but then slowly our cars merge into a single lane and eventually crawl past ground zero. If it’s really bad (mangled metal and gurneys), we let loose some sympathy, maybe a prayer, but then we speed up. In short measure, we’re back in the car culture that was momentarily interrupted by someone else’s misfortune that will soon become a surprise phone call to some family that will receive some bad news. It will be part of the family narrative for years, if not forever, depending on whether or not a wreath will be placed on the concrete of some colorless highway of cracks, cigarette butts, foam cups, and gravel, recently visited by an angel.


Anonymous Malo said...

Yea, the wonders of modernity never cease to amaze me. It really is sad how unsocial we've become.

7/25/2005 10:50 PM  

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