Freeway Fright

I spend a lot of time on the Gulf Freeway (I45 south of Houston), with my sixty-mile round trip to work and back every day.  Nothing much surprises me.  I’m used to dodging impatient motorcycles, keeping my little Corolla out of the blind spots of passing tractor trailers, and marveling at the number of people talking on their cell phones.  If I could see the ones thumbing text messages into their phones instead of watching the road, I’d probably be afraid to go out there at all.

I’m used to seeing everything from fender benders to car fires along the way.  Shoes, lawn chairs, hub caps, and ironing boards (honest, I saw one this week) find their way onto the pavement.  Debris on the Houston freeway system on any given day might range from bales of newsprint to chunks of concrete.

This morning I had an experience that would have been unnerving if I’d had time to think about it.  Traffic was moving right along, maybe fifty miles an hour, not unusual for a Friday morning, when a carton came flying into my lane, right in front of me, from somewhere to my left.  A big carton, maybe four feet by two feet by two feet.  Blue and yellow, I think.

Nowhere to swerve–there were cars in the lanes to either side of me.  No time to stop–the cars behind me would have piled right into me.  Maybe my driver’s instincts told me, from the way the carton bounced across the road, that it was empty, but it didn’t much matter.  I didn’t have a choice.

I ran right over it.

A quick look in my rear view mirror showed me chunks of cardboard flying harmlessly (I hope) through the air and bouncing along the pavement behind me.  Empty box, all right.  It was only then that I thought of what might have happened if there had been anything substantial in that carton.

Every time I get stuck in slow traffic, edging past an accident or waiting for one to clear, I remind myself that I might be late, but I’m not standing on the side of the road staring at my wrecked car.  Or worse.  Far worse.  I just thank the traffic angels and wait my turn.

What have you run into–figuratively, I hope–on your favorite freeway lately?



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gerrybartlett
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 09:22:29

    I’m right there with you, Kay. Once I saw a car swerve off the freeway in front of me, flip twice then land on its wheels and drive onto the feeder. Had to be a stunt driver showing off but I didn’t draw another breath for a mile at least. Crazy! You were lucky a piece of cardboard didn’t land on your windshield and stick there, so you couldn’t see. It happens. I hate the Gulf Freeway but spend half my life on it. Once wrote an essay about it. They started building it the year I was born(mumble, mumble) and I know it will never be finished. If I added up all the hours I’ve sat in traffic there, I bet I’ve lost a year. I have held a job at a school where my room even looked out on the blasted thing. Sigh. And I can hear it at night if I open a window in my bedroom. Yet I love Houston and drive in every chance I get to treasure hunt. Now who’s crazy?



    • Kay Hudson
      Apr 28, 2012 @ 10:05:26

      About twenty five years ago, I was driving into the city with my mom, who didn’t drive at all, in the passenger seat, when a huge bag of something white and powdery fell off a truck and exploded in front of me. On a curve. Couldn’t see a thing. Just held onto the wheel, and the curve, until it cleared. Probably a minute, but it felt like an hour.



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