I make the turn into the onramp, and it’s not ten feet before I discover that traffic isn’t going anywhere, and of course there’s no Plan B: I can’t back up, and the ramp leads to one place only.
So I merge in at about 15 mph, and I start wondering where the hangup is. I decided it was probably two miles ahead, where a section of pavement, pounded by rain last week, finally separated itself from the roadway, leaving a crater worthy of the dark side of the moon. (Which wouldn’t surprise me, since there are spots on 50th, closer to home, where telling your asphalt from a hole in the road is all too easy.) Fine, I said to nobody in particular, I’ll just get off at the next mile and take the surface streets.
Then I saw the black-and-white in the median, a car with its rear in the air well off the shoulder, an 18-wheeler a couple hundred feet ahead, and I realized that there was no hazard at all: it was the phenomenon known as “rubbernecking,” a bunch of people slowed to a crawl in gleeful anticipation of seeing the carnage for themselves.
And upon this discovery, I put the Venturi effect to work and shot through a narrow opening in traffic, putting this discouraging vision behind me as quickly as Gwendolyn was willing to permit.
It occurred to me shortly thereafter that if this had truly been the Venturi effect, a partial vacuum should have been created; I consoled myself with the knowledge that plenty of them already existed, between the ears of the schmucks I’d left in my wake.