Driving to work, I saw the flock of geese flying. They were in front of me, so I could not only see their V formation but their beating wings – pretty much in unison, strongly pushing down and drawing up. No match for the car however and I imagined them beating more strongly and with increasing desperation as I continued to catch up. Inevitably, I caught up with them – neck and neck as it were – and in a pun only I got, I honked my horn as I went under them. I wasn’t after them, after all, and they for their part probably did not consider my beating them to the next exit ramp one in the loss column even if they had seen me pumping my fist in exaltation. If I am allowed one anthropomorphized speculation, I suspect they rolled their eyes at the sound of the horn. “Like we’ve never heard that before” they winked to each other.
My commute was far from over, however. There were thirty more miles to drive, me and the others. Not in a V, but straight lines – parallel lines which with astounding frequency meet and switch and merge and split and remain straight and parallel. I wonder if the geese are astounded to see this. No point man here. No taking the lead so others can rest until it is their turn to come to the front. Whatever lead there is is taken by one who continues to increase his lead until there is no one behind him in sufficient relationship to be considered a follower. Back to the pack, then, and let’s see who breaks from the bunch next.
My expressway commute starts off with two lanes, joins with a three-lane expressway and becomes two or three miles of magnificent four-lane space before one lane exits, then another lane merges in and we are back to two lanes. Then, fifteen miles down the road, a third lane appears on the left and remains there until The City busts up the expressway, parceling its drivers off to their various destinations. The speed limits change but the only times you notice are in the widely-known speed traps. There is one before the joining with the three-lane and one each right before and right after the creation of the third lane. The joining of expressways results in two miles of frantic, strategic jockeying so that one will be in an optimal spot at the end of the process. I’ve made it up to 90 MPH sometimes. You don’t want to be forced down the exit, of course (and why are these ones who want to exit waiting until the last minute to get there? And you, the one coming on, do I have to come to a complete stop for you?), but you also don’t want to be behind that truck in the far right lane either; the one which is in the center lane you can get around before the merge of the third lane, only kicking up a few pebbles from side of the road.
The geese, I had beaten early on in my commute, before the spot about three/quarter-way between where I get on and the joining where the expressway has a traffic light. I can only suppose they did not feel like building a bridge or the wet land around the intersection couldn’t support bridge and the ramps necessary. At that light, all the expressway drivers get to bunch up until green says go. Then the trucks start their long journey through the gears until they reach cruising speed and all the other cars either zip around them, or if they were unfortunate enough to be directly behind them, wait for them to reach a good speed or until the other lane is clear so they can zip around. After the geese, I was in the lane to get around the trucks at the light except there was a car in my lane which as much as it didn’t want to be behind a truck, it also did not want to pass the truck. Cars backed up waiting in vain for their turn to zip around. We got to the joining still crammed together without resolution. The other expressway was fairly clear so several cars burst out from our two lanes over two lanes to that magical fourth space. As it turned out, only one car made it into the fourth lane ahead of me. He was not going that fast but he, like I, just wanted to get around the mess. His license plate made a statement. NO BNDRY it said, which I assumed meant “No Boundary” (What else? “No Bindery”?). I drove somewhat close to him in the fourth lane until he finally felt sufficiently free from the crowd and moved right into what eventually became the left lane. I sped up and passed him and then moved over.
The rest of the commute went fairly smoothly with the expected speed traps at the other two spots on the trip. One I was going a bit fast for but I guess it was my lucky day. I made it to work in plenty of time. I did all my preparations, including making the coffee and got some down time in before the day began.