A Pointless Tale

No deep insights, no hidden truths today. Just a bit of fluff I hope will brighten your day a smidge.

So there’s this stretch of road that’s a key part of my commute. Those of you who know the Bay Area, it’s Richmond Parkway. For the rest of you, picture this: two lanes in each direction, a wide median whose grass is desperately in need of trimming, half a dozen traffic lights, and a posted speed limit of 50.

Yes, 50. On a city street. Okay, the street in question connects two freeways, and it’s semi-rural. But again, those traffic lights and pedestrian traffic.

About half the cars–in these COVID-19 days, maybe more than half–take 50 as a challenge. Sixty is common, and even 75 isn’t unheard of. Then there’s a large minority who figure the speed limit signs are in error, so they stick to 35, whooping it up to 40 if they’re feeling reckless.

Add in the trucks. Did I mention the trucks? Sorry. Many of the businesses along Richmond Parkway are the kind that make use of trucks. Big trucks. Tankers hauling liquid nitrogen or molten sulphur. Huge pickups with poorly anchored loads of scrap metal. Multiple anonymous trailers.

Do you know how long it takes a big truck to go from zero to fifty? Hint: it’s about the distance from one traffic light to the next along Richmond Parkway.

Forget about trying to pass. The trucks and the curve of the road make it very difficult to see who might be coming up on you from behind. The major differences in speed encourage shark packs that block lanes. So if you’re behind a truck or an over-cautious driver, you’re going to stay there.

So, got the picture?

A few days ago, I was running a bit late on my way to work. Not enough to actually be late, but enough that I was worrying about traffic on the freeway. I’m sitting at the first traffic light, first car in line and nobody in sight ahead of me. The radio is tuned to a classic rock station.

The last vehicle through the light from the cross street is one of those molten sulfur tankers. It accelerates up Richmond Parkway–in my lane, of course–reaching a top speed of almost thirty before it starts slowing for the next intersection.

A new song starts playing just as the light changes to green for me:

You said it, Sammy.

PS: I did make it to work on time.

4 thoughts on “A Pointless Tale

    • It is very different at night–or, indeed, anytime outside of commute hours. Especially if you’re limiting the discussion to the part I travel: basically west of the Giant Highway.

      (For the sake of those not in this general area, in addition to those truck-attracting businesses, that part of the parkway adjoins marshland. It also adjoins the county waste disposal facility. The co-existence is somewhat fraught. But that’s a subject for another time.)


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