Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Bounty of the Highway Ditch



At one particular spot on my daily commute where four highways merge in a tangle, debris seems to accumulate.
Each week has its own theme. One time, it was an entire wardrobe, strewn for hundreds of yards: shoes, underpants, sweaters and dress shirts. Often, there is furniture.
I have followed (at a safe distance) a pickup with a dresser on the back. As the drawers rattled out and shattered on the dotted line, one by one, the driver continued on his way, oblivious.
The week after that, a series of smashed windshields lay in drifts of mini shampoo bottles. How could this have happened? I imagine a tractor-trailer full of shampoo, battling its way toward the I-76 on ramp. The glass truck refusing to yield…Boom! Suddenly we have a modern art installation right there on the highway.
On the guardrail, half of a manufactured home has split open like a hot dog bun, appliances spilling out. That's a lot worse than a tree branch through the roof.
In our bountiful country, you could find anything you wanted on the side of the highway. It's there for the picking. But I think most people would rather go to the store and pay. It's safer than doing wind sprints in 70 mile-per-hour traffic. Plus, the stuff at the store doesn't have tire tracks on it.