Open Access

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Leaving the parking garage for my lunch appointment on Tuesday, I found the exit blocked, yet again, by the construction crew of the new condo across the street. I tapped my horn and when a couple of members of the crew turned towards me, I pointed to the pallets blocking the way. One of the guys holds up his finger in a gesture of “one moment”, walks over and moves the pallets — but not the huge truck behind them, basically giving me just barely enough room to turn the corner and not scrape the sides of my car.

As I fought to move the car around the obstacles, other construction crew members stopped working to watch and laugh at my efforts.

Last week when I took my car into the Ford service center, I missed the regular entrance and ended up driving through the actual center itself. At the center exit, a car blocked the way out, with a mechanic standing beside the car talking to another mechanic driving the car. I waited, not saying anything, not sounding the horn — I was a stranger in a strange land in this place. Eventually, the two guys finished their conversation, the car started to move, and I started to go…

…when I was stopped because the mechanic who had been standing by the car walked directly in front of me, slowly, looking at me, making sure I realized that he “owned” this territory, and that I pass by at his sufferance.

These two acts go beyond issues of courtesy. They were about power. These two individuals were the gatekeepers and I had to pay toll.

With the construction crew, my toll was to be humiliated as I tried my best to drive around the obstacles. At the service center, my toll was being made aware of the fact that I didn’t belong in this place, and I had best remember it.

There are well established (though often ignored) laws about driving to ensure we don’t kill each other. There are roads to enable driving from any point A to any point B. There is also a mapping and addressing scheme that works remarkably well in regards to location of same.

All of which can be arbitrarily shut down by one person who, in a moment of ultimate power, controls my only access to the organized but open system of the road.

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