Till Death Do Us Pull Out

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week by having an argument about Ipswich traffic.

I now submit to you both sides of the debate, and invite you to cast your vote in favor of my viewpoint. Or otherwise, if you must.

Here’s the scenario:

Two vehicles arrive simultaneously at that awful little wedge of Ipswich where Lord’s Square becomes Central Street. Forget for a moment that people driving east on High Street have suddenly found themselves in a spider web of exits and entrances which must be navigated before they can get to Central. The two vehicles we’re having this fight about, on our 32nd anniversary, have arrived at the only two stop signs on the south side of Lord’s Square: the one where you’re trying to get off of Linebrook Road, and the one where you’re trying to get off of Liberty Street.

Ignore, for the time being, the question of whether either vehicle wants to go (a) left toward High Street or (b) across onto Short Street or (c) right to Central. All we know, for the purposes of this marriage-threatening conversation, is that both vehicles have arrived at the same moment.

So now, both drivers crane their necks to peer northward, hoping for a break in High Street traffic, and then swivel their skulls like owls to see how many cars are coming up from Central Street. You’re either a crane or an owl at this intersection.

Now comes that magical moment, when a gap appears. OMG, there’s a two-car length of empty space behind the guy in that Toyota SUV, and nobody happens to be lurching out of Dunkin’ Donuts. And look! There’s a break in the flow from Central Street — thank heaven for that impertinent Kia Soul driver inching out into the roadway and then losing her nerve — yes, sorry, it’s a woman. (Not a sexist bias, I just report it the way it happens.)

And here, finally, is the great question: Who should dive into that gap?

Who has the right of way? The Linebrook Road driver? Or the Liberty Street driver?

  • You might consider the universally accepted protocol that the vehicle on the bigger, more important roadway has the right of way over the vehicle on the smaller, less important roadway. (Think Argilla Road matron trying to get out onto County at 5 p.m.) Which means the Linebrook Road driver should gun it.
  • Or, you might consider another practice generally recognized at intersections governed by stop signs: When two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right goes before the vehicle on the left. (Remember, this is America. Whoever’s furthest to the right gets to make the rules.)

So, at the tangled knot that we call Lord’s Square, who wins? Left or right? Linebrook or Liberty?

My lovely wife has been driving for 43 years. Not continuously, of course. But driving a lot, anyway, ever since Gerald Ford was president. And it should be noted, in all fairness, she has never, to my knowledge, had a traffic accident.

I, on the other hand, have been driving since Nixon’s first term. And I have had plenty of traffic accidents. Some were even my fault. In recent years, however, I would like to point out, my record has somewhat improved. I have learned, for example, to slow down while approaching the Our Lady of Hope parking lot, where the cop cars lurk.

  • My wife says that the ludicrous Lord’s/Linebrook/Liberty mash-up is an awful mess, but it does somehow, ludicrously, qualify as an intersection, so the idea that the vehicle on the right has the right of way is appropriate. Ludicrously.
  • I, on the other hand, say that once you pull out past the stop sign, you’re essentially on Central Street already — which is both 133 and1A — so the poor shmuck trying to get off of Liberty Street is just a hapless wretch trying to get from a tiny, insignificant side street onto a major thoroughfare, and let him keep trying.

I certainly don’t want to influence your vote. But sad to say, after more than three decades looking at the same person across the breakfast table, it can come down to a moment like this. So if I don’t win this vote, I may need to rent a room from you.

Kindly cast your ballot by emailing IpswichTrafficLove@DougBrendel.com. The marriage you save may be my own.



Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road, for the time being. Follow him at Outsidah.com. You’re also invited to check out his humorous new daily blog, ComplicatedEnglish.com.


6 thoughts on “Till Death Do Us Pull Out

  1. You can rent a room but you will have to build it first… (And not merely because I am a woman…) I must side with your lovely spouse on this one… An other option creates a level of anarchy I am not sure the gentle burg of Ipswich is prepared for.

  2. Hilarious response from realtor Nicholas M.: My take, whoever the gap comes to first. In other words, if the final car before the gap passes the liberty street driver first, they should go. If the final car before the gap passes the Linebrook car first, they should go. Now, if it’s a situation where the gap opens up from 2 cars going in opposite directions right in between both Linebrook and Liberty thus creating the gap at the exact same time for both cars, they both should drive out together over to CVS and buy a Powerball ticket. They should also agree to split the winnings when they get it.

  3. Steve O. writes: “Sadly Doug, I think the boss is correct. On a positive note, I have a chicken coop available for sleepovers. The 8 chickens will produce plenty of heat to keep you warm during the winter.”

  4. Sue B. writes, in part:

    I am afraid I agree with Kristina. Simultaneous arrival of the two cars, the vehicle on the right has the right of way, but, please read on.

    I once saw some poor schmuck taking root on the Liberty Rd. exit. I saw an opening and in a moment of compassion waved for him to go. Out of nowhere a car came barreling out of Dunkin’s and almost killed him. I have since changed my attitude to everyman for himself. I am sure you are going the same direction as I am most of the time, which is straight in to town so we really only have to deal with traffic on the left which brings me to another pet peeve.

    A car that is turning left at the Linebrook Rd. Lord’s Square intersection and hugging the right hand curb thereby making me hostage to his left hand turn. I sit watching a multitude of opportunities where I could go straight trying to think calm soothing thoughts. I really want to gently tap his bumper, but with my luck, my airbag would deploy effectively beheading me.

    Another gripe. People coming from town who want to turn onto Linebrook Rd. and stop dead center on the main highway while waiting for the traffic to pass. This can lead to a back up to the fire station. I, being a wonderful person, hug the island allowing cars to proceed around me as I wait to turn left. It is not rocket science! These people are locals and not out-of towners. Perhaps that shouldn’t be hyphenated but my job is to give you your next Complicated English column. I am here to serve.

    Can anyone find the name of the traffic planner, study person who made Liberty St. one way in to an already awful intersection? I would be all for a public lynching or at least tar and feathering.

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