There’s nothing like the stench of hot tar in the morning. And the grinding of massive truck gears outside your front window at 6 a.m. And the shrill beep-beep-beep of an asphalt loader backing slowly into the marvelous mammoth machine which — once the two behemoths have coupled — lays a whole new road before your bleary eyes.
Someone in Ipswich town government (bless them) found some money somewhere and hired a wonderful crew to strip my cherished section of Linebrook Road, from Newbury to Randall, down to the original dirt, and then lay down a totally new, start-from-scratch roadway. Potholes of historic dimensions, potholes so big they had their own echo, potholes mistaken by grieving out-of-town relatives as the final resting place of their loved ones, are no more. The wondrous Street Guys have given us a long, smooth, shiny black work of art. I am heterosexual, but I have never felt such affection for a group of big, beefy men.
(To see two delicious minutes of outer Linebrook Road going from colonial-era cowpath to slick, ultra-modern boulevard, visit DougBrendel.com/road.mov. It’s what I witnessed from my bedroom window. If you’ll be offended seeing one machine injecting another with asphalt, don’t go there.)
But of course, while the work is going on, there’s a price to be paid. You get a very thoughtful notice from the Ipswich Department of Public Works, several days in advance, warning you that there will be a critical one-hour interlude during which you cannot get onto or off of your driveway. During this time, you will be trapped in your house — or trapped in your car, in front of your neighbor’s house, muttering, “Why, oh why, didn’t I get home 20 minutes earlier?” Which is a euphemism for “Why, oh why, did I stop at the bar on my way home?”
I got out in the morning, before the quarantine began. But as I attempted to return home — for the record, I had an actual meeting to attend; I was not slumming at Club 498 — I was stopped a few hundred years from my home by a member of Ipswich’s Finest. Up ahead, our section of outer Linebrook was reduced to a single lane. An officer was stationed at each end of the work zone, walkie-talkie in hand. They alternated, like kids on a seesaw, either (a) letting cars through the narrow passageway, or (b) making them wait while the cars coming from the opposite direction snaked through.
I happened to arrive during a segment of (b) making them wait. So there I was, hanging out at the edge of the construction area, with my personal Ipswich cop. With a vision of smooth sailing on my beloved street, I was feeling gushy. I lowered my window.
“I’m so happy,” I said, “getting a whole new road! No more rack-and-pinion- contorting sinkholes!”
The officer arched an eyebrow. “Yes,” he said, “but we’re worried, sir.”
“The Ipswich Police Department, sir.”
“Worried about what?”
“Speeders, sir,” he replied. “Smooth road — people speed. It was bad enough before, but——“
He sighed heavily, and squinted into the sun, like a young Clint Eastwood.
“With this stretch of slick new pavement, we’re going to have to be out here with radar constantly.”
Of course, as you can imagine, a surge of civic responsibility immediately swelled within me. I wanted to help. Ipswich is my chosen hometown. If there’s a way I can ease the burden on Ipswich’s Finest, I want to do it.
“Maybe there’s a simpler way,” I offered. “A sniper, crouching on my roof, could pick off speeders very easily.”
The officer’s face clouded. I could tell he was tempted.
“Violence,” he finally replied, “would be frowned upon, sir.”
I had to admire his response: Ipswich police officers are a model of propriety.
Ultimately, as we chatted — waiting for the officer at the other end of the construction zone to (a) let cars through — the friendly Ipswich cop and I arrived at the ideal solution to the speeder problem. A much more efficient, and compassionate, solution. Which I am happy to present here now.
No radar. And no death by sniping. But yes, a gunman will be situated on the roof of my house. (Site donated by me.)
The sniper will use a paintball gun. (Also donated by me.)
Think of it this way: It’s a good thing. No lives will be lost. It’s just this: You speed on outer Linebrook Road, and your car gets messed up. Bad. The speed limit on outer Linebrook Road is 25 mph. Come roaring through on this glossy new asphalt at 35 or 40 or 45 mph, and your paint job will never be the same.
Disclaimer: If you’re on a Harley, we’ll do our best to squirt your machine. However, if we happen to accidentally splurp paint on your beard, your helmet, or your bicep tattoo — well, sorry.
It’s 25 mph around here. Even on brand-new asphalt. Slow down, bro.