Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Ticket to Ride

What drunken sailor, high on outlet shopping, numbered the exits on the Maine Turnpike? 
It starts out normally enough when you get on in Bangor headed south. There's exit 186, 185, 184, 183, and 182 A and B. The next exit is 180 which might give the sticklers pause - I mean why two exits for 182 and none for 181? The next exit is 174. What happened there you think. Did I miss the last six exits? Am I not paying attention? Do I need another Red Bull?
But that's not all because the next exit is 167, then 161, 159, 157, 150, and 138. It's like a preschooler did the numbering.
Things really start to plummet when you get close to the New Hampshire boarder: exit 32, exit 25, exit 19, exit 7. It starts to feel like some sort of Twilight Zone episode where a motorist goes looking for an exit that doesn't exist or a Stephen King novel where the driver leaves the highway via exit 50 only to find that there is no exit 50 and now they're on some kind of side road to hell.
And while it's all well and good to make fun of it (whatever it takes to pass the time while driving right?), there's a real danger of missing your exit say if you're getting off at exit 86 and you're at 103 and cruising along on auto pilot only partly paying attention because you think you've got scores of exits yet to drive past right? Wrong. You're got one exit, #102, then it's straight on to exit 86, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Maybe it's a ploy by the Maine highway department to get drivers to miss exits, thereby forcing them to get off and back on the highway repeatedly and having to pay expensive tolls over and over again. Pretty devious of those Mainers if that's the case.
Maybe there's a more humane explanation. A Buddhist one in which the designers of the Maine Turnpike have purposefully misnumbered the exits in order to keep drivers from becoming complacent. Gotta drive in the present man. Gotta pay attention.
It's just a little Zen and the Art of Highway Exit Numbering.
Yeah. That's the ticket.

song: Ticket to Ride • artist: the Beatles


Audrey said...

If it is like California the exits could be numbered North to South and East to West by the distance from the state border.

Joanne said...

It's probably something sensible like that - but it is startling when you first begin to notice it.