Welcome to The Twilight Zone
by Dick Wilson
Those of us past a certain age will remember a TV series called The Twilight Zone. In a new Sci-fi or fantasy story each week, people found themselves in places where the regular, good old dependable laws of the universe didn’t apply.
There are many, many bad, twilight zone road intersections all over Bay Country, but I submit that The Intersection at Boyd’s Turn Road and Route 260 in Calvert County stands nearest to that zone. At The Intersection, unearthly forces are at work. What at first appears simple is actually quite complex, and vice versa. I don’t have supporting documentation, such as a certificate, but I do have evidence. I offer the following in support of my claim.
Let’s take an imaginary spin through The Intersection. You are driving south on Boyd’s Turn Road; your destination is Chesapeake Beach. You stop at the stop sign. Here the gods of the highways wait to wreak their awful vengeance for every driving error you’ve ever made.
To get to Chesapeake Beach, you must cross two westbound lanes of 260 and turn left onto the eastbound lanes. You look to your left, prepared to move as soon as the westbound traffic provides a break.
There it is! But wait!
Three cars already occupy the small island between the eastbound and westbound lanes. You have to get to the island to complete your turn, and on the island there is no room for another car.
So you wait for another break in the westbound traffic and also for space on the island. You wait and you wait, and so do your fellow travelers lined up behind you. Finally, a car leaves the island and you’re ready to go; you see a break in the westbound traffic.
But wait again; here’s a car facing you on the island with the left turn signal flashing. Does the signal really mean the driver intends to turn left? Or is the turn signal still flashing (i.e., not turned off) from the turn into the island? You look at them, they look at you, nobody moves; you’re back at square one. You wait some more. Finally, the traffic breaks, the car facing you on the island moves across or turns left, and you’re free to go to the island.
You want to make a left turn from the island, remember, so you need to look to the right. But you can’t see what’s coming; your view to the right is blocked by the long line of waiting left-turners on 260. The left-turners, who have right-of-way, must pass in front of you to get onto their part of the island, so you must wait for one of them to stop before you can proceed.
Some good soul stops and you are able to go. But no-o-o-o; you are going nowhere because you can’t see what’s coming. The left-turners still block your view of oncoming traffic. The left-turn SUV is stopped, you’re stopped, and now there’s somebody coming from straight ahead. Is that driver going to cross? After all, that driver sees the oncoming traffic that you can’t see. Or are you going to be allowed to go in front?
Finally, you sense that there might be a break in the eastbound traffic, but you can’t know for sure. Indecision and uncertainty! You decide to go for it; you pull out onto the left lane because the left lane is the lane of choice; there is no merge lane.
You hoped — in vain, it turns out — that the eastbound 260 travelers were staying in the right lane as they passed the intersection. A horn blares; the hair on the back of your neck twiddles; you cringe; you know you’re going to get creamed; but here’s the miracle: Nobody hits you! Not this time, anyway.
Welcome to The Twilight Zone. Stay tuned.
Readers: Send your nominations for competing Twilight Zones to email@example.com.
Bay Weekly proofreader Dick Wilson knows something about traffic. He is a retired air traffic controller.