I know that beginning a letter with a story is as cliché as beginning a talk with a joke, but it has to be done. When I was in third grade, a boy in my elementary school class brought in a bunch of copies of a CD that his Dad had been working on. We all thought that it was the coolest thing—when is free stuff not the coolest thing? The CD was in celebration of the construction on the I-15 (the road I only knew as the road to Grandma’s house) was winding down and finishing up.
I hope you laughed out loud just then Utah. While we seven-year-olds sang your praises with a rambunctious chorus of the smash-hit “A Whole New Road,” you—sly devil that you are—had no intention of finishing up the aforementioned road. It’s been more years than I care to share since then and it still isn’t finished.
The other night my apartment got into a conversation about your drivers and your road-work and your billboards and your parking lots and the conversation managed to go on (with new material to talk about at every turn) for the better part of thirty minutes. It was not for lack of something better to do or talk about that you were the hot topic, this is an apartment of people full of passion and deep conversation, but you have just been too persistently bothersome of late to allow us our usual conversation material.
We are collectively puzzled by your large stretches of freeway lanes that are closed with no visible sign of work being done there. We cars move into one-lane, an uncomfortably tight group-hug, and there appears to be no reason for it. We are a little terrified by the fact that this means that there will be miles and miles with no place to pull off, meaning we are not only at risk for a pile-up, should the gas run-out or a fender bender occur, but, should the police ever attempt to pull us over, we may be mistaken for some kind of fugitive from the law as we will have to drive to and get off at the next freeway exit to even consider pulling over.
Because you keep changing the shapes and directions of the lanes on us, we get mixed up by the juxtaposition of old and new dashes on the roads. That unknown makes perfect weather at twilight into white knuckles all the way, not to mention that you keep getting flirtatiously close to the cars that chose new when you chose old or vice-versa, and you’re coming around a bend to an even tighter squeeze and you don’t know whether hugging the barricade or hugging the stranger next to you is the lesser evil.
Strange that your drivers are so friendly as people, but so unfriendly on the road. It is an existential crisis nearly every time I have to change lanes, because people are so unwillingly to let other people in and so happy to maintain a speed that keeps them directly in your blind spot, particularly when your blinker is indicating that that is exactly where they shouldn’t be. I blame you for that too, Utah. People wouldn’t be so grisly if your most famous road wasn’t such a stress-inducing obstacle course (and not the kind of obstacle course that makes you a better person, like life).
Most dastardly of all, and the catalyst for my taking what were just thoughts, frantically swimming around in my head, to paper is that the trucks that have been harrowing up the road in front of my humble abode for the better part of week now—and though I do feel fairly fancy and exclusive driving right through the detour sign because I am ‘local traffic’—I don’t know what you think you’re doing there. I have to drive over an ugly and no doubt dangerous pile of gravel when I leave my house. My nightly walks now take me past an eerie hole in the ground, 6-feet deep.
And because the sound that the scoopers make when they reverse is exactly the same as the sound our microwave makes when something is finished cooking. I celebrated my oatmeal’s maturation and the end to my hunger pangs prematurely this morning, and I didn’t appreciate playing the fool. Utah, we’re done. No more nightmare car treks, no more detours, no more assuming that because it is spring semester at BYU, we can block off every road in the greater BYU area and no one will notice. I’ve reached my limit Utah, I admit that I too have been under construction since I was in third grade, but you have nothing like my excuse.
Student, Driver (but not ‘Student Driver’)