Leaving this leafy suburban enclave pretty much requires that I drive underneath a steel bridge that’s been under construction since way before I arrived a few months ago. At times, even when I see workers toting helmets on the structure itself, it appears that work has been halted, that no progress is being made.
Yet, once in awhile, I’m struck by the sight of a new addition or extra girders that have seemingly appeared overnight. And occasionally, I’m shaken by the potential for danger inherent in such an activity; for the workers themselves and for us, the drivers.
This morning was one of those times: As I approached the bridge, I suddenly noticed a leg dangling down through the middle of the structure. With cars behind me, I had no chance of breaking to avoid what I perceived as imminent disaster: Surely, the person belonging to that leg was just moments away from falling down to the road himself. As my palms clenched the steering wheel, I squinted, accelerated, lowered my head, held my breath and sent a micro-prayer to the heavens -with the first mantra that popped into my head; no more accidents, no more accidents, no more accidents…
Seconds later, the sunshine calming my nerves, traffic moving smoothly, nobody stopping me for ludicrously panicked driver-behavior, I released my breath, glanced at the rear view mirror and, seeing that the road behind me was free and clear, whooshed out a deep amen.
Perhaps I had nothing to fear. Most probably it was merely a steelworker perched across beams while welding, letting his leg dangle below. Perfectly logical. But logic has nothing to do with (irrational) fears, with trauma relived, with a hope and prayer that people don’t usually fall from a bridge.
And so, I am thankful to these men who are taking their time, whether by choice or regulation, in erecting a bridge that will hold the masses as they walk and cycle across.
Cambodian engineers, would you please take note.