Ingrid Miles — iconic realtor, former selectperson, and all-around distinguished citizen — was the very first person I met in Ipswich; she was the selling agent for my house on outer Linebrook Road.
I have always really liked Ingrid, and admired her, but I did almost kill her.
And not just her. Her husband Stephen, too.
Not on purpose, of course. But when you kill someone, regardless of whether it was on purpose or not, they’re just as dead.
I was driving my very small car eastbound on High Street, approaching the intersection of North Main, where High becomes East. On my left was the Ipswich Inn, on my right was Ingrid’s house.
Ingrid and Stephen were crossing High Street on foot, heading home at a perfectly appropriate pedestrian pace. I was zipping along the road toward County Street, at something exceeding an appropriate vehicular pace.
Did I notice these vulnerable pedestrians? Not soon enough.
There’s a moment, just before you clobber someone with your car, when your eyes lock with theirs, and you experience in each other’s face a millisecond of intensely personal dialogue. (Later, after the incident, forensic experts can measure the length of the skid marks on the pavement to determine just how many milliseconds the dialogue took.)
You’ve heard that old thing about your entire life flashing before your eyes? No, it’s way more intense and personal than that.
In this case, for example, Ingrid’s eyes were saying, “I sold you your house. I thought you liked that house. How could you do this to me?”
And my eyes were saying, “I love living here. How could it end this way? Prison is going to be horrible.”
I’m not quite as sure about Stephen, but I believe his eyes were saying, “I knew I should have bought more insurance.”
Fortunately, there is a God, or at least angels, because someone supernaturally intervened and saved all our lives. The Mileses froze in their tracks, I hit the brake, my car magically swerved, the pedestrians crossed the street unscathed, and I trembled as I drove sheepishly past them, feebly waving my apologies.
Who could blame them for asking the Town of Ipswich for stop signs at that intersection? It came down to one simple equation: Either erect stop signs now or memorial crosses later.
So here come the stop signs, at the head of North Main Street, newly ordered by the Ipswich Select Board: one sign stopping eastbound traffic at the end of High Street, another for westbound traffic at the end of East Street.
Ingrid reports that I am not by far the only reckless driver to have endangered lives there. But I blame myself. If you hate the new stop signs, you can hate me too. In my heart, I know I did this to us. To us all.
Sure, these new stop signs will save lives, and spare countless multitudes from the horrors of mutilation and dismemberment. But geez, how inconvenient.
Now, to get from the 1634 Meadery to Crane Beach, you’ll have to endure one additional full stop.
No more blasting past the Ipswich Inn without stopping in for breakfast.
Or, coming from the other direction, no more careening down from Great Neck, blowing off the 20 mph speed limit, Cuvilly flashing by in a blur off to your right, the Little River Store barely a blip on your left, before you’re bending around onto East Street on two wheels as you head for Dunkin’.
Those freewheeling days are over.
At first glance, the signs will appear to say simply STOP, like traditional stop signs. But squint a bit and I’m afraid you’ll see that they’ve added small print above and below: This is mostly to STOP Doug Brendel.
(Doug Brendel has not yet been barred from leaving his home on outer Linebrook Road, but the Ipswich police haven’t ruled it out. Follow Doug at high speed by subscribing here at Outsidah.com.)