#SOL22: Conundrum

Flashing Lights

Take a deep breath.

Slow down.


No one else is slowing down.

The car behind is not YET close.



But … WHERE?

Still, no one else is slowing down.

The car behind is close, not on my bumper, but close.

I tap my brakes,

Watching my rear view mirror.

Watching in front

As the lights are quickly approaching.

The siren is blaring

As the vehicle accelerates.

Where do I go?

I’m on a mile long bridge.

There are only two lanes.

No shoulder.

No extra space.

A mid line,

An outside rail.

I come to a complete stop as the car in front of me also stops.

Pure relief.

And yet, the car behind has not stopped.

My eyes alternate, front/back, front/back, front/back,

The car behind stops,

Inches from my rear bumper.

The sheriff’s car races by … lights … sirens …

Slowly traffic resumes on the mile long bridge.

When does following the law or the rules seem dangerous? What is the alternative?

The question remains:

How does one follow the law and pull over to the side of the road for an emergency vehicle when on a bridge without a “side of the road?


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27 responses

  1. I could feel your tension and would have felt the same panic- how to do the right thing, when it feels like you can’t… Hmm, all kinds of connections I can make here!

    1. Subtitle: How not to panic wirh limited choices.

  2. Oooo, I was worried you were going to be hit. Definitely a conundrum, a catch 22? I get so frustrated when I do the right thing and pull over, only to have cars speed past me.

    1. I hate that, too, Margaret.

      Bridges are so not my thing but this has seemed like a doable route because it’s not so high above the lake. Hmm.
      What will next time be like?

  3. So much tension. You capture it perfectly. My favorite line was “My eyes alternate, front/back, front/back, front/back” Stay safe.

    1. I was thinking ” rhythm” on that line.
      Ticking cuckoo clock or windshield wipers.

  4. I feel your concern for your own safety as you share your feelings of “doing right” and “being safe.” I really did think you were going to get clonked by that care behind you!

    1. Me too. Clonking seemed a real possibility.
      Somewhere there was a “Don’t Panic” prayer in there but it was tough!

  5. You had my heart thumping as I read through your slice, Fran. What a scary time you had in the car. It’s hard not to panic when you’re on a bridge and something like this happens.

    I know it’s a LOOOOONG way off, but I’d love to use this slice as a “Be Inspired” piece for next year’s March SOLSC. If that would be okay with you, would you please email me with the permalink to this slice. stacey{at}staceyshubitz{dot}com

    1. Wow! What an honor!
      Thanks, Stacey!

  6. This is a scary situation, especially when cars behind don’t slow down. I’m fairly certain the law, at least here, is to pull over to the right as far as possible and stop to allow emergency vehicles room to pass. The goal is to make room, so I’m pretty sure you did follow the law.

    1. Another reason why kids need 100s of hours of driving experience.
      Rules matter.
      How you respond matters even more!
      Thanks, Glenda!

  7. I feel your anxiety. Where do you go when there is no place to go? What do you do if both lanes were full and there is no place to pull over? Then there is always that guy behind you. Is he going to slow down? stop?

    1. So many questions. All in less than a minute or so.

  8. That felt tense! I always wonder what drivers are supposed to do in those moments when there is nowhere to pull over *to* … how do you follow the law and keep yourself and those around you safe at the same time?

    1. Exactly. That’s the conundrum.
      How is everyone safe? And following the law when both don’t seem possible?

  9. […] McVeigh, a longtime Slicer, wrote a piece called “Conundrum,” which was a heart-thumping piece of writing about a scary time in a car while on a bridge […]

  10. Fran – I love your Conundrum poem – but not the experience. I’ve had a similar type of experience in a tunnel. I’m scrolling through all your recent posts and am learning so much. I love that your blog is called Resource-Full – it certainly is! Thank you!

  11. I was lucky that I was on my return trip and not just setting out for the day. I really hate tunnels when I am driving! Ick!

  12. The zigzag form of your slice mirrors the tense decision making you had to do. Way to explode that moment. Love this as a mentor text.

    1. Thanks. Format matters.i love playing with visual alignment in blog posts when WordPress cooperates!

  13. Wow! I felt like I was right there with you! I’m so glad you were to avoid an accident.

    1. Thanks.
      I revised and took out a lot of words to add the crispness to the tension.

  14. Hi Fran,
    What a scary situation. I wouldn’t know what to do either and with that car coming in fast behind you… what a relief it stopped just in time. I don’t know about you, but if I had to drive other that bridge regularly, I’d break the law and speed over that bridge every single time.
    Glad you didn’t get hurt.

    1. It’s a fair weather bridge for sure. It often seems to bring out the worst drivers – too fast or too slow.

  15. Fran, life is so fragile and uncertain. I can imagine the fear you felt being in this unexpected happening. Using a poetic format for your slice was a great choice.

    1. Thanks, Carol.
      One of those situations when time simultaneously flew by and crawled so slowly!

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