[NetBehaviour] The Building on the Freeway, True Story

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Jan 30 15:29:55 CET 2020

The Building on the Freeway, True Story


Do you ever feel you've outworn your welcome on this planet?

That your time has come and gone? The trees do and the trees did.
They were speaking to me and that's what they said. Not about the
trees, about the rest of us.

We were returning yesterday from Amherst, visiting Adam Tobin and
his bookstore. It was around 12:30 in the afternoon. We were on
Interstate 90, crossing Massachusetts.

What occurred was only a state or configuration - two escort cars,
one before and one behind, lights flashing; four police cruisers,
lights flashing; and a large truck pulling a trailer with a fairly
large 1 1/2 story building on it. Moving buildings isn't all that
unusual - what is unusual, is moving them, along with the escort
cars and cruisers, in the fast lane, in heavy traffic, at 82
clocked miles per hour, the house heading fairly often into the
median strip where the trailer kicked up what seemed at times a
tsunami of dust and garbage into the other lines. What's unusual
about this? Most house moving occurs in the off hours; most isn't
done at 82 mph; most occurs in the slow lane; most doesn't have
four police cruisers surrounding it. Why the hurry? Why the fast
lane? The rest of us followed in the middle lane; at times we were
next to the house. It got more interesting when we had to pass
another truck - this time moving a huge piece of machinery, fairly
slowly - in the right-hand lane where the house should have been.
There was chaos of course. What was fascinating as well was the
steady-state of this high-speed configuration; we were in this
situation for about a half-hour (having of course passed the
slow-moving machinery); nothing changed - the careening building,
the escort vehicles, the four cruisers, the rest of the traffic
confused and trying to con/figure out what was going on and how to
pass (we never did; eventually we turned south at the Worcester
exit). And we never took photos or video - too worried about the
drive east. Instead we were left with questions: Why move this
building in the daytime around 12-1 p.m.? Why move it in the fast
lane? Why the large escort? Why move it around 82 miles an hour?
Why was it constantly careening into the median strip? Why was this
legal in any way? What was in the building (it was wrapped in white
plastic)? Why endanger everyone on Interstate 90? Where was it from
(like the rest of us)? Where was it going (like the rest of us)?

By the time we returned to our place in Providence, we were in a
state of bizarre exhaustion and nervousness. And the question still
haunts us, and will haunt us for the rest of our lives: Why 82
miles an hour? Was the house fleeing, along with the troopers and
the escort? If so, what was it feeling? What?

(As far as the trees? We were in a motel the night before; I was
using an older Sony camera that was giving out; the trees made it
shudder; the camera made the trees shudder; together they seemed to
warn us: Beware of the house on the move on the morrow: Beware!)


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