The roads have suffered enough from the endless snow and ice, freeze and thaw this winter, without the politicians and officials adding to our agony. Instead of fixing the interminable potholes which send one to a garage almost every week to fix tires, they’ve decided to fix large stretches of freeways and turnpikes instead.
On Thursday, February 20 I was in Baldwin Lodge giving a talk at Wantaugh DeMolay Chapter. What a great evening, and a good turnout of DeMolay boys and Triangle girls! I left the function at 11:00pm, and found myself on the parking lot called the Belt Parkway, where they were doing road works. Several miles of tailbacks, of course. Add to that the fact that Bayonne Bridge was shut, requiring a detour via Newark Airport. I finally got home at 12:45am.
On Friday, February 21 I went to La Guardia Lodge on Staten Island. Simple! Just a hop, skip and jump from Bayonne. It only took half an hour to get there. The talk went well, and I was particularly touched to see several ‘red coats’ present. The Lodge had organised a wonderful strawberry cake to celebrate my hopeful ascension to the position of Grand High Priest, and I must particularly thank Bro. Anthony Mongelli and Bro. Gill Calderon for all their kind comments an courtesies. And I left the great event around 10:15pm…and got home at 11:30! It’s all of 15 miles. This time the cross-Staten Island parkway turned out to be a parking lot. Then I finally turned onto the road up to Bayonne Bridge (which shut at midnight tonight, with all the sings already ominously flashing ‘Bayonne Bridge Closed’), only to find two police cars blocking the two lanes, their lights flashing, not moving. We stayed like that for nearly 15 minutes, until they suddenly started moving again and left the road. There was absolutely NOTHING on the road ahead. I guess that’s how they get their Friday night kicks? I was feeling pretty relieved by the time I got to Bayonne Bridge I had begun to wonder if the police cars were going to block the road till midnight, just to say ‘suckers!’) – and then we ground to a 2 miles an hour crawl again. I assumed it was another police car having fun. However, 20 minutes later when we finally crawled past the bridge and back onto a real road, the front car pulled over to the side. It turned out to be an old man, who was just sitting there, staring straight ahead. All the cars hooted hi and waved their fists as they passed. I couldn’t be annoyed since who can tell what happened. Perhaps he was taken ill at the worst possible time – at the start of three miles of single file traffic. But it feels like you can’t make this stuff up.
I vowed I’d be giving no talks during the year I was Grand High Priest. Now I know why…
R∴E∴ Piers A. Vaughan