“Grandpa, tell me the story again,” the little snot-nose whined.
The old man sighed. On the other hand, there was no one else around and he was bored. And he did love having an audience.
“It was a long, long time ago,” he said easily. By now the story was an old friend. It was like slipping his toes into a well worn pair of penny loafers with old leather comfortably broken in. Not at all like plastic, like Crocs, that all the snot-nosed sons of bitches called “shoes” these days.
“I think the year was 2013. Yeah, that was the last time it happened. The likes of which the world has never seen again.”
“Back then,” the old man continued, “I was still able to drive a car. The snot noses hadn’t taken away my license yet in the name of public safety. I think I must have been about 104.”
“So there I was, minding my business, driving through town. Yup, yup. Don’t interrupt, snot nose. This town. The very same town you and I still call home.”
“You know,” the old man paused, reminiscing, “back then it was still possible to hit a green light.” He shook his head. It was best not to think about such things.
“What’s a green light,” the kid interjected.
“I told ya, snot nose. Don’t interrupt yer elders. You want the story or not?”
It was a day like any other day. At the time I saw nothing special about it. The sun was shining. People were walking on sidewalks. Idiots dressed in Statue of Liberty costumes were dancing like fools. The streets were packed with cars, of course, and drivers were in various stages of shaking their fists, yelling at each other, making obscene gestures and striking vehicles with tire irons. All in all it was just another regular day.
What we did back then, see, was drive the length of a city block, hit a red light, and wait about four minutes. The light would turn green, they still did that back then, and we’d inch forward slower than Mrs. Kreseling and her busted walker, no offense ma’am, one more city block to wait at the next red light.
We’d repeat that process about 80 times to drive the six miles across town. I guess the trip took about three hours. You’d get to your destination but by then you’d already be late so you’d have to turn around and come right back home.
But this day, something out of the ordinary happened.
Normally you’d crawl up on an interestion and every single direction would be crammed full with cars. The fancy snot-nosed traffic engineers (ha!) called the various paths that cars could take through movements. They probably had a preoccupation with poop like the most of the worst bloggers back then.
Anyway, a four-way intersection could have something like eight different movements. And the traffic lights – signaling devices they called ’em – would automatically detect the cars and give every damn movement their turn. Meanwhile we’d have to wait.
Can you imagine? Four minutes sitting and doing nothing. Nothing at all! We didn’t have internets stuck in our eyeballs and up our noses back then, either. We had to wait. And four minutes of doing nothing is an interminable eternity. It’s a lot like dying and going to Hell and being sent back to to Earth again. Which is, obviously, a hell of a lot worse.
But this time, this one time, the intersection wasn’t completely full. Luckily I had my meds with me. One of the movements had no queue of cars. It was completely empty.
At first we figured someone had died. Or perhaps there had been a nuclear attack. A lot of us scrambled for our cell phones to call the police. But no, it turned out it was just a freak of nature. Random probability and all that shit. There simply weren’t any cars. Only seven of those traffic movements were full.
That meant I only had to three and a half minutes to go rather than the full four minutes.
It was a literally a miracle. Later the Pope himself would visit and bless the scene. Of course it took him a long time to get there in his little Popemobile. Even He has to stop at red lights, too.
And that’s the last time – anywhere – in any American city, where an event like that ever happened again. It was way back in 2013. Eventually it came to be known as The Great Intersection of 2013, and I, your humble grandpa, was there. If you go to the corner of Main Street and Barack Obama Boulevard you’ll still find my name engraved on the commemorative plaque. I guess that’s my claim to fame.
Now git the hell out of here, snot nose. I can’t be expected to tell stories all goddamn day.