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.