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  • My, how things have changed. So much depends on one’s perspective. It’s not necessarily right or wrong, but it filters how you see things. Here’s a perspective on how traffic patterns that is probably wrong, probably mixes apples with oranges, but it is a perspective, nonethelss. It influences how one sees the world.

    Was a time, you could drive south from D.C. and be in Fredericksburg in an hour’s time. On a Friday afternoon. Now, that trip will take you 2 – 3 hours. Where did they all come from? Where are they all going? And what’s this “they” business, anyway?

    I am one of “them” – I’m doing the same damn thing they are. Getting the hell out of “Dodge” (aka DC). What am I complaining about? We’re all out here “counting the cars on ..I-95… we’ve all come to look for America”.

    There hasn’t really been a slow-down of this heavy traffic going to many different places. When the financial crisis hit us, I really thought there would be. My memory drifts back to the Gas Crises of 1973 and 1979. You could “see” these crises wherever you went. It was right there in front of your eyes. The impact was all-pervasive.

    I was driving on this same road in Florida, in 1973 when the first gas crisis hit. Heading back up to my ship in Jacksonville after driving down to see my fiance in Cocoa Beach– well, she was my fiance before I drove down there. In my mind she was, anyway. Somehow, I’d thought that we had pledged our love to each other and this was when we were going to nail it down and firm it up, meet her folks, seal the deal. It all fell apart in Cocoa, my dream, our love, smacked in the face by reality, and all I was trying to do was get back to my ship to lick my wounds and hide.

    But I-95 was a ghost highway. Nobody was out there. You just couldn’t go anywhere. I had to get back to my ship! I ran out of gas on this highway. All of the stations were dry – “No Gas Today – Sorry!” I just ran out. Nothing to do but walk away from that car on the shoulder of the road, and keep walking. Hitchhiking was kind of tough, because there was no one out there to pick me up. Maybe a car every few minutes or so. I-95. It took a couple days to make it from Daytona to Jacksonville. Walked a lot of that stretch, got a couple rides, mostly from cops.

    It would be another week before I could get back off my ship and get back to my car. I was restriced for a few days for being AWOL. Byt the time I got back there, it was long gone. I never did find the thing. I’d just bought it a couple weeks before for $1500, put a few hundred into fixing it up, and bought what turned out to be bogus, fly-by-night-let’s- rip-off-dumb-assed-sailors-insurance that gave me not a nickel for my missing car. I spent 2 years paying for that sucker that I’d driven for all of 2 weeks. That was a damn crisis, for me.

    My, how things have changed. It took my nephew and his wife 13 hours from Philly to South Carolina, usually a 10 hour drive. Heavy traffic, especially in Virginia. The gas crisis of 1979 comes to mind. Odd-numbered and even-numbered days. Stagflation. Crisis in confidence. I had just had another car stolen. Luckily, this time my insurance was good. I was driving a rental I could afford on a $10/day allowance from the insurance company. Each Friday, I had to turn it in and get a different one for the next week. It was always on empty. I had to go find a gas station and line up, it usually took about 2 hours to get gas for a few days, and pray to God you don’t run dry on an even-day if your license plate was odd-numbered.

    Things have changed. Nothing remains the same. Thank God. We always manage to move through the crises, no matter how bad they appear, or how well they remain hidden from those not impacted by them. We do survive. We move through. We learn to work together, reach out, not be the lone cowboys and cowgirls, trying to struggle through it on our own. We’re in it together. We need to remember that.

    My how things have changed. I can write this today, and depending on how I choose to put it out there, hundreds might have read it by tomorrow. No pen, no ink, no envelope, no stamp. Just a wireless connection, a keypad and a “Save”. Connections have been made a whole lot easier to establish.

    I don’t miss walking on that ghost highway in the middle of Florida, wandering where everyone went. I really don’t mind the extra couple hours it takes to get to South Carolina from DC. It tells me things can’t be THAT bad, yet. Or, am I just missing the signs? Probably am. I am pretty frickin’ dense.

    Some things never change!

    (Photo – gas pump at little backroad gas station filled up at on way to SC yesterday – took me back to the ‘70’s!)
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