What did I do to deserve this?

To get from my house, on Planet Outer Linebrook in western Ipswich, to just about anywhere else in town, you have to cross Route 1, eastbound on Linebrook Road.

There’s a traffic light there. Which is basically a good thing, because vehicles barrel up and down Route 1 like refugees from a Mad Max movie, and trying to cross the road without a light would be suicidal. Especially since out here in the hinterland, many of us still use horse-drawn buggies. No, just kidding. Not many, just a few of us.

But the traffic light at Route 1 and Linebrook Road is not perfect. In fact, I suspect some nefarious backstory. Here’s why:

On any average weekday morning, the light will be red for 30 seconds or so, then green for about 15 seconds. Math was my weakest subject, but I think this means, on any average weekday morning, I should have 1 chance in 3 of catching a green light at Route 1. But I’m living in an altogether different reality. I cross that intersection sometimes as often as six times a day, but I haven’t caught the green since April.

I suspect that I’m being singled out for unfair treatment.

It’s almost as if the traffic light somehow knows it’s me. I’ve never heard my neighbors Jim Engel or Judy Field, both former members of the Ipswich Select Board, complain about the light at Route 1. Seems they sail right through. They must have connections. Is it a secret perk of Select Board service that you get a tiny transponder to keep in your car that turns the light green at Route 1? I’m not accusing anybody; I’m just asking questions. Questions about rampant government corruption. Favoritism in high places. Places I’ve obviously never inhabited.

Another possible scenario is that when I got my Covid vaccination, they sneaked a microchip into my bloodstream that alerts the traffic light to my approach. I was a little uneasy about getting my shots at Our Lady of Hope for this very reason. What if the Catholics were targeting us Episcopalians? Again, I’m not saying it happened. But what a coincidence, huh? I get my second shot on March 19th, and by April I’m stranded on Linebrook Road, waiting for the light to change so I can get to church.

However it happens — by some sinister plot or plain old bad luck or anything in between — I never, ever catch the green light at Route 1.

Of course instead of waiting for the red to change, I could illegally sidewind through the Cumby’s parking lot, exit onto Route 1, catch the green at Linebrook Road, turn left, and be on my way, all in less time than I would have spent sitting on Linebrook waiting. 

But would I do it? 

No. I’m a law-abiding citizen. In spite of the fact that the law has it in for me, I consider myself duty-bound to put up with the oppression. Sure, my productivity is a fraction of what it could be — I’m spending hundreds of cumulative minutes cooling my heels when I could be on my way to any number of important business activities which would enlarge the Ipswich tax base — but who am I to complain?


Doug Brendel lives mostly in his car, and not by choice. You can follow him at DougBrendel.com, or just find him most anytime at the intersection of Route 1 and Linebrook Road.

One thought on “What did I do to deserve this?

  1. This comment from Alexandra D.:

    I drive into the righthand curve of Linebrook Road West (of Route 1), that straightens to let me see our traffic light. It is almost always enticingly green, but invariably turns yellow as I am abreast the Fire Station, and triumphantly red as I reach the intersection. I always bring a book to read as I wait for another car to drive out Linebrook Road heading west. The light won’t turn green for a single car, nor will it acknowledge a car trying to turn north onto Route 1. A 30 second wait? It most often feels like a minute and a half. Or longer. Or much longer.

    I live down by the Linebrook graveyard, on Newbury Road. The location is idyllic, with a feeling of space and green life, a scant few miles from excellent, distinctive restaurants, a clean, uncrowded gym, a Market Basket, CVS, B of A electronic stall, and other amenities. Cumbies provides coffee, any size, myriad types for $1.06, any time, any day. Marini’s vegetables beckon from the hillside of Linebrook East. I am grateful for it all, with the festering irritation and incredulity that our traffic light hath wrought, acting like a cancer to metastasize and kill gratitude, 3 times or more a day.

    I contemplate going to Town Meeting and rising to demand that the town fix the light sensors on Linebrook, but I think the town would reply that it was a state issue, at the very least. So, what to do? Decline to pay State taxes, income, excise, whatever? Demand that the head of Highway Repair and Reconstruction live on Linebrook Road West, to share our plight and passion?

    You are the bright light here. Always green. Shine your brain on this and tell me what to do.

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