Saturday, March 17, 2012

Round and Round We Go

When the local newspaper ran an article recently about the new “roundabout” under construction in downtown Tulsa and proclaiming it to be the first in the city, I’m going “huh?” First? No way! Isn't that just another name for a traffic circle? I've been navigating such a circle, playing dodge-a-car at Admiral and Mingo for years. With an entrance and exit from all four directions, it was anyone’s guess as to who was going to yield first. Adding to the danger is the fact that most Tulsan’s hate using turn signals. I would suspect that most probably don’t know their car has them. Lane changes were spur of the moment decisions; inside, outside, it all depended on when, or if, you wanted to leave the circle. Folks changing their mind in mid-lane were the norm. It’s certainly no place for the timid.

Later in the article, I learned that I hadn’t been using a roundabout or a traffic circle at all, but something called a rotary. Who knew? A roundabout, I find, has a 110 foot diameter while a traffic circle—adding to the confusion—is even smaller. Once again, size matters. At one time, downtown Tulsa had a great traffic circle, a thing of beauty with a huge fountain and a shallow pool, smack dab in the center of the intersection of Fifth and Main. People liked to sit around the edge of it during lunch hour and dabble their feet in the water while eating a sandwich. The fountain is no longer there of course. It was destroyed years ago by numerous drivers that smashed into it, “most of whom were drunk” the paper relates. This is Oklahoma remember. Put any solid object next to a roadway of any kind and eventually, someone will take it out.

The article brought to mind a particular incident of younger years when I was living on the east side. The Missus and I had been to a bar with our good friends Ron and Donna Jane. It may have been the same night that Donna Jane and I exchanged shirts in one of the booths. In fact, I"m sure it was. She wanted my tee with a picture of some animal on it but I thought her puffed sleeves and blue flowers looked fabulous on me. The clothing swap would probably have gone mostly unnoticed by the patrons had D.J. been wearing a bra...but no.

From the bar, it was only a couple miles to my house, but there was that traffic circle, I mean rotary, to navigate. We were in Ron’s tiny AMC Gremlin at the time. The Gremlin, you may recall, was once voted as the number one worst design to ever hit the highways. D.J. drove while Ron and I rode in the back with the hatch open and our feet dangling above the blacktop. It was more roomy and comfortable that way. Now I don’t know if Donna Jane couldn’t figure out where to exit or if she just liked the idea of going round and round as fast as the little Gremlin could go and listening to the tires squeal. I do know we made several revolutions, the Missus screaming “slow down, slow down” each time we flew by a yield sign.

Eventually, our driver chose an exit, the proper one, miraculously avoiding an intervention from flashing red lights or sirens. I’m so glad there wasn’t a fountain in the middle of the roundabout, traffic circle, rotary.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, to be young and immortal again!


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