The traffic lights on Broadway in Portland—like the traffic lights on many one-way thoroughfares the country over—are synchronized such that, if one is traveling as a certain, constant speed, said one will hit every green light for about twenty blocks.
Thing is—and I don’t know what causes it—but the thing is, sometimes one light is off its game a little and, even though one had been going The Good Speed and hitting all the lights just as/after they turn, sometimes a light doesn’t turn green, and one (ie me) is forced to brake with some considerable urgency, so’s not to drive through the intersection and risk hurting oneself and/or one’s “precious cargo” (ie Wiffleballs and -bats).
Adding to the drama of this experience is that—through a combination of gas-saving measures and a weird perversion of vanity—I now regard any use of my car’s brake as a personal failure. Really. I view it as a last resort and will often, if I see traffic ahead, begin to coast—sometimes very slowly—so’s not to have to come to a total, gas-wasting, soul-crushing stop. Mind you, I don’t mention this as an invitation to the reader to marvel at how “quirky” I am. I’m as surprised about this personal development as anyone else, and regard it as merely another example of human frailty.
Moving on. What I want to say is, is that usually this stretch of Broadway is good for preventing any extraneous use of the brake. But occasionally—occasionally—I’m forced into an unenviable situation. I’m driving on Broadway and I’ve caught the light just right such that, say around 17th Ave, I’ve just gone though a green and the next light is still red. In most cases, if I maintain a steady pace, the light at 16th Ave will turn green before I get close enough to make it an issue—and the same for 15th, 14th, etc. But sometimes, in the middle of what I’ll call my “flow,” the light up ahead stays red even when it seems it should be turning green.
And stays red. And stays red. And stays red.
Until, finally, I’m forced to choose between two equal, and unsavory, alternatives: either crash my car and face the various consequences of that particular contingency (ie death or worse), or commit what I have come to regard as one of the gravest mortal sins a young Enthusiast can commit.
I’m not particularly good at describing sensation, as I try to avoid it (ie sensation) at all times, but I guess the feeling that ensues is called panic. As the conflict between potential outcomes (ie crashing or braking) becomes more and more possible/potent, my eyes begin to roll into the back of my head. I clench my jaw. Something indescribable occurs in my manparts. In short, I feel my grip on “waking life” loosening.
What happens next is almost always that I slam on the brakes. I’m sane enough to realize that running a red light, driving through a busy intersection, and possibly causing major injury—to do all that so’s not to have had to apply my brake—that would be difficult to explain to people like the police and my fiancee and the families of the deceased. But it (ie the decision) comes with that same sense of failure which I was trying to prevent.
What I mean to say is, is that what I’ve just described above is the same feeling I got yesterday in the 9th round of my Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Public League draft when, with 10 seconds left, I still had no idea who to pick. I mean, it’s still early enough to secure real talent. There’re still some finds out there. Amir Johnson? He’ll be starting at Power Forward for the Pistons. Jamario Moon? He’ll give you a lot of Blocks. Andrea Bargnani? He’s, uh, Italian.
There’s a lot of pressure, is what I’m saying. And I felt it. Really felt it. Like, enough so as to consider it unhealthy. And also, I ended up picking Ronnie Brewer, which is probably unhealthy for my fantasy team.
And that has made all the difference.