It's not about the house.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Townville Tang: My Fair Lady

I’ve decided to just give in and make News Tuesday all about Townville, since odd things just keep on going down. And I’ve decided to call it The Townville Tang, in honor of Kim’s revelation. I hope it’s not too boring for those of you from away…

Last week the Boston Globe wrote a story headlined “Temporary span is raising frustration on South Shore” – to which I responded: “Der!”

See, remember when I said yesterday that we drove 1000 yards over the bridge to the boat docks? Well, that bridge (called the Fore River Bridge) is, in fact, a drawbridge. Not the old-fashioned crank-kind that you could just speed up and jump over if you were an action-movie heroine and drove something with a bit more oomph than Chuck (TFT), but the kind where a flat slab in the middle disconnects from the sides completely and rises vertically. Like a nightmare.


Still, though, when we first moved here I thought it was quaint, in a forced-out-of-the-modern-hustle-bustle kind of way. When that bridge goes up, you have no choice but to sit and wait, just like people have been sitting and waiting at drawbridges for a thousand years. Or a hundred years. Or however long drawbridges have existed, which I don’t feel like looking up.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, however, and I pretty quickly got frustrated with the damn thing’s haphazard schedule. There’s a big LED sign on either shore that purports to announce when an opening is planned, but it inevitably goes up fifteen minutes late or early – which is, coincidentally, exactly the allowance you made in your departure time, and so exactly how much later you will be (or could have slept) as a result. And this is not to mention all the times that it just goes up unannounced.

Sometimes, though, it just gets stuck and stays there (which is reassuring, to say the least), and they have to divert all the route 3A traffic the long way 'round to the next-closest bridge. Ahem. Rte. 3A connects all the beaches on the South Shore, and the long way 'round goes directly by our house. I've learned the hard way that, if I’m hoping to pull the car out of the driveway for any reason on a hot summer day, I’d better pee first -- twice -- and bring a snack.

It would seem obvious that there’d be a web site for the bridge – just one simple page that would list their pretend-schedule and let you know if it was, at any given moment, up or down. (I always used to say “open” or “closed,” until about a month ago. I was relaying crucial to-the-minute info to someone about to make the attempt, and together we realized that while some people may intend “open” to mean “up, and therefore you can’t cross it,” it seems that others take it to mean “down, and therefore accessible to moving traffic.” God, it was like an Abbot and Costello routine when she hit the bridge and called me from her cell phone. “But you said it was open!” “Yes, so why did you try to cross it!?” “Because you said it was open!” “Right, so what were you thinking?”)

Anyway, there isn’t. A website, I mean. And I had the brilliant idea last month that I should mount a webcam to my roof and start my own. I could probably make dozens of dollars selling advertisements geared towards the ones of thousands of folks who would check in (“If you make it across the bridge, buy gas from us!” and “If you don’t, buy it from us!”). Unfortunately, although this might just work in wintertime – if I mounted it from the top of the chimneystack, built a little shelter for it, and then also never burned wood in the fireplace – the little green, flat, fluttery things that dangle from tree branches all summer would quite effectively obscure the view for half the year.

Not that I would have ever got around to it, anyway. Because if anybody’s going to be climbing ladders around the AssVac, something about her had damn well better be looking nicer when they climb their asses down. So if there’s anybody out there reading this who lives closer to the bridge than I do, you can feel free to steal my idea. I guarantee it will be well-appreciated by at least one Townvillean. Although maybe only one, as it turns out. Because when I told my bright idea to a friend who lived for six years in the house directly behind ours, she didn’t understand my frustration with the bridge at all. And when I got all red-faced, ranting about the 15-minutes early/late thing, her response was “Jeez, you really do have bad luck, don’t you?” So maybe it is just me, after all.

Okay, so what was my point? Oh, right, the article. Well, the gist of it was not – as one might logically assume from the headline – that residents are annoyed by the delays. No, it turns out that the main thrust of the article was “Erin and Johnny, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. And also trapped like a couple of poverty-stricken rats. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

See, we thought (and had been telling people for a while, though I don’t remember where we got our information) that this was a temporary bridge, that it had been built to last 15 years and had been up for something like twelve already with no plans for replacement. The first part we got right – it’s a 15-year temp – but this article says it’s only been up since 2004 and plans are in place to take it down by 2020. There are a few problems with this, however:

1. We moved here in April of 2004. I know I drove over that bridge with One Friend the last time she visited us in our old apartment. I don’t remember when that was, but it was summer, so it had to have been open since at least 2003. Liars!

2. Even if 2004 was not a lie (which it was), and even if this new bridge will be in place by 2020 (which it won’t), that’s still 16 years on a 15-year temporary bridge. And it’s already falling down. Seriously, if you’re the kind of person who rides roller coasters with your hands in the air and watches Kevin Costner movies for the acting, then you should check out the article (here's the link again). In it, they quote this guy who walks under the bridge every day and has a bucket in his house full of rusty old bolts that he’s picked from the ground beneath it. The officials claim those bolts were dropped by repair workers, but I don’t know which would make me feel worse: that the bolts did, in fact, fall spontaneously out of important bridge-parts, or that the materials they’re fixing it with are that rusty and old. Scylla, I'd like you to meet Charybdis...

3. (And most importantly, because who cares if the bridge falls down as long as noone I know is on it at the time). We’re never going to be able to sell this house! We’re stuck here! Unless Superman comes back to life and flies backwards around the world to 2003 (in which case, I suppose, we could change our minds and never buy her in the first place), there is no way the market is going to recover enough for us to unload the AssVac. Even if we finish all the work we have left to do on her (which we won’t) before our rate adjusts in 2014, they’ll be building one bridge and tearing down another one a thousand yards away! Who the hell’s going to pay any kind of decent money for a place like that? And, of course, if nobody does, then we’ll be the ones who have to live in a construction zone. Forever.

Ah, well. On the bright side, Johnny hasn’t had any income in a while, and future building-trade prospects are looking pretty grim. So if we’re very lucky, we’ll be in debtor’s prison before roadwork begins.

I hope it’s quiet there.

6 comments:

beardonaut said...

I like bridges. And tunnels. You should snap some more pics and post, for our viewing pleasure.

EGE said...

Oh, I didn't take that picture! If I did, it would suck. that picture I stole from the Boston Globe website with the article I was talking about. But if you request things, I will try to oblige. So I'll try to take some (sucky) pictures of my own and post them here, just for you.

(You should be warned, however, that when i promise to do things on this blog, there's only a 50/50 chance that it will actually happen. Just ask whoever's been waiting more than a week for the answer to the Skull Bong Question...)

soup said...

good post! it has the fire and sarcasm of old. (please note that i am not taking pleasure in your "pain," but rather enjoying your ability to write about it in a way that makes me laugh out loud.)

jen said...

I love those kind of bridges! Tho probably wouldn't love them so much if one in was my everyday commute.
XO
someone will buy your house when its done. You bought it...

su said...

It is even mildly amusing when EGE plans a party and has to include scheduled bridge activity in the invitation!

Chris said...

What's not amusing is dropping off "Football buddy" on a sunday morning and finding the bridge in the UP position and then having to wait knowing with each passing second it is going to get harder to get a good parking spot at the game...
Happened once, shocked that I did not stroke out on the bridge...