Give us a break

Driving down a highway heading home one Saturday afternoon, I confronted a large orange sign with black letters staring at me in the face saying, “Give us a break.”

“Ha, what a laugh,” I said to myself thinking how typical. There was a time when road construction was limited to mild seasons, but now it appears to be year round.

What better example that those of us in the Hoboken/Jersey City vicinity know only too well is that never ending construction project on the ramp west of the Holland Tunnel leading either to the viaduct towards the Pulaski Skyway, Route 7 or to Kennedy Boulevard and the New Jersey Turnpike.

For what seemed like eternity, the construction crew had set up barriers toward the left causing confusion at one point that made it easy for drivers to mistakenly enter the Turnpike entrance. No doubt, such motorist mistakes had given the Turnpike Authority an abundance of extra revenue.

Another all too familiar scenario is the departure from a shopping mall. Exhausted after hauling and unloading heavy packages into your car, you head out to only encounter a sign saying “no exit.” Then shortly ahead another saying “no left turn.” Miraculously you find your way out.

As you’re about to exit off the road leading to home, a sign reads, “Exit temporarily closed due to construction. Follow detour.” Meandering around the side roads leads to confusion until finally you spot a patrolman up ahead directing motorist accordingly.

All this zigzagging has added ten minutes extra to your time, but wait you’re not even at your final destination yet. Two blocks before you think you can pack it all in a detour sign states, “Road closed.”

“What is this, no exit day?” you say in disgust while beginning to understand what Jean-Paul Sartre’s characters must have gone through in their entrapment from the outside world or Burt Lancaster’s character in “Birdman of Alcatraz.”

Finally, up ahead you discover a horrific traffic back up that you later discover is due to a right land closing causing cars to make an immediate merge into the left lane.

All of this brings me back in full circle to my Saturday afternoon highway experience recalling the construction crew’s “Give us a break” sign, which in reality should have been from us telling them to give us, the motorist, a break.

Elaine Kabat is a frequent contributor. Comments on this essay can be sent to:


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