Friday, May 5, 2017

Today's Mostly True Short Story: A Day in the Life of the George Washington Bridge

F LoBuono

The traffic sucked - just for a change. Yeah, right! The George Washington Bridge (GWB) is the busiest in the world. 276,000 vehicles cross that bridge on any given day. That's 102 million/year. Since I grew up in Fort Lee - the New Jersey side of the bridge and have worked in New York City for over 15 years - I am intimately acquainted with that structure. I have attempted to cross that bridge at almost any given hour of the day: 9am, 2pm, 4am - doesn't matter. You can encounter traffic at any moment. And, I usually do. What makes it even more frustrating is that it's rarely an issue with the bridge itself. More than likely it involves the road the bridge leads to and is one of the worst highways in the world: the Cross Bronx Expressway.

This afternoon was no exception. Despite the heavy rain, I made good time on my first leg; down the Palisades Interstate Parkway(PIP) and to the GWB. Once I paid the toll and make the long loop unto the bridge, I saw the traffic on the bridge was at a virtual standstill. I grumbled: shit! not AGAIN! But, I resigned myself to my fate. I would inch across the bridge and do the best that I could to make it to work on time (I always leave myself extra time). But, I certainly was not a happy camper!

I began the process of wedging myself into the flow of traffic when I noticed her out of the corner of my eye. The entrance from the PIP to the bridge is carved out of the very living rock of the mighty Palisades, one of the rarest and most spectacular geologic features in the world. Banking hard, her wings spread to full extension, a Red Tailed hawk was soaring high above the traffic and around the massive stone face of the Palisades. I only got a glimpse. She made the turn around the cliffs and disappeared in seconds, heading down river. But, it made me think - and, then, smile. Instead of thinking how miserable it was to be stuck in traffic, I marveled at how nature can still survive, even thrive, despite our best efforts to destroy it! Besides, hawks are my spirit guides - animals that show us the way. And, she certainly did. I merged, made it over the bridge in about 10 or 15 minutes and make it to work on time. All in a day on the GWB!

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