This I Believe

James - Orefield, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 8, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I Believe in the Code of the One Lane Bridge

My daily excursion to work begins with a fast drive down the turnpike. My EZ PASS has eliminated the need for any human interactions at the entrance and exit points and in between the only contact I have with other people occurs when I decide to chat on the cell phone. Driving slightly above, OK sometimes more than slightly above the posted speed limit, feeling autonomous and safely insulated from any interactions with fellow drivers, I wiz down the road securely tucked inside my little mobile cocoon.

It doesn’t take long before I reach the exit ramp and travel the last eight minutes of my journey on a countryside road. The curves in the road, painted with the shadows from the tall trees, eventually lead me to the one lane bridge. There it happens. I have to “take a turn” or “give a turn.” This puddle jumper of a bridge can’t be much longer than a frog’s leap on a good day, but it is long enough and narrow enough to prohibit two cars from passing over it in the same moment.

The code of the one lane bridge is simple; the first one to arrive on either side of the bridge has the right of passage. This pause in my fast forward dash allows me to actually see the driver’s face as he/she passes while I wait my turn. Often there is smile and a wave to say, “Thank you for waiting” and I lift my left fingers upward from the steering wheel to reply, “You are welcome, have a nice day” as I nod my head.

Occasionally we flash our headlights to say, “Go ahead, you first” and the recipient flashes back, “Thanks for giving up your turn.” This happens when there are several cars at either end. A good will gesture allows two and even three cars to cross before taking one’s turn.

I love the one lane bridge and I miss the interaction on days when there are no cars coming from the other side. For me, the code of the one lane bridge is the antidote for road rage. The one lane bridge provides me with an opportunity of choice; I can use my car as a vehicle of rudeness or as a chariot of courtesy.

I wish there were more one lane bridges in my day’s journey. For me, it feels good to be nice to a total stranger and the bridge summons the goodness from the inside that is waiting its turn to be shared on the outside.

I believe in the code of the one lane bridge. The giving of a turn and the taking of a turn on the bridge creates balance between feeling good and doing good. The cost for this coveted moment – a few seconds taken from my flight plan. “Flash, Flash… Go ahead, you first and enjoy your day.”