He had driven for years over the bridge, every work day, mainly staying in the middle lane, moving with the flow of the traffic. His eyes were mostly on the cars ahead of him, fixated on their taillights. Every now and then he’d dart his eyes to the sides to make sure no one came close to side-swiping him. He was on an inner cruise-control, waiting for someone else to screw up.
This Monday morning commute was different: a three car accident at the early part of the rush hours caused two of the three lanes to be diverted to a single lane, the right. Traffic was backed up, but it was the only way into work for him, so he speed dialed his office and left a message he’d be late. It was start and go, bumper to bumper, and it seemed like no one was willing to give an inch.
It was at a half mile to the entrance to the bridge that he noticed a small green sign for the first time. With that time to kill, he read: “Your Life Is Worth Living,” which was followed by information to a call box just a little bit ahead. “Your Life Is Worth Living” played in his head as he scooted along the road. Jamming on the brakes as he almost hit the car ahead of him, he felt his heart beating a bit faster, and a sweat trickle move down the side of his face.
Finally approaching the bridge, he noticed a short road off to the side. There was time for him to look, and sure enough there was the call box. There was also another sign: “Your Life is Worth Living.” He drove past.
“No, it’s not,” he whispered, out loud.
The day was uneventful, and he had essentially forgotten about the message and that morning by the time he drove home. No accident this time; the same old, same old commute. Except…as he approached the bridge, in the middle lane, his eyes darted to the side and they caught the image of a green sign. He just had enough time to spot the turn off juncture before the bridge: another call box, another posting about life. He sped up, put the left blinker on, and went into the far lane over the bridge.
That night he took a Klonopin with a beer chaser.
For the rest of that week, and the next, he tried not to notice the signs going and coming. At first more surprised than not, he became attuned to where the sign was without any other visual clues. By the end of the second week, he started to drive in the right lane.
He kept looking. The side road-going-was gravel, grass overtaken most of it. Coming home, it was just blacktop. The call boxes were both clean, graffiti free, but both posts were bent a little in, towards the road. In these weeks he had not seen anyone stop at either spot. People just sped along, trying to reach the other side, just like he was doing. He found himself, though, slowing down a bit before he got to the bridge, eying the call boxes, until someone eventually honked him and he naturally sped up.
Two weeks after he first noticed that green sign he almost stopped at the side road. That Friday had been an exceptionally bad day.
“Your Life Is Worth Living,” and he ruminated about his life. He did this at work, in his car, sitting in his empty apartment. His lifetime of regrets and screw ups pounced upon him over the weekend. He tried to shake them away with pills and booze, but it didn’t do much. He tried to pick up the phone a number of times to call one of the few friends he had, but he couldn’t do it. By Sunday evening his mind had wandered to taking the whole pill bottle.
Monday morning, and he left to go to work. He rode the entire distance to the bridge in the right lane. At the first green sign he put his right blinker on. Reaching the gravel and grass side road he turned onto it and parked his car. Calling the office, saying he wouldn’t be in that day, he sat and looked at the call box, the sign. “Your Life Is Worth Living,” and hundreds of cars zoomed by just beyond, going and coming. He had no clue how many even noticed it.
Getting out of his car, he walked to the call box, opened the door, and pulled the phone out.