"Oh, No. I'm Not Going Over THAT."

There are some bridges I won’t cross.  Like a jumper horse that gallops along full speed and then suddenly rears up, “Oh, no, you don’t—I’m not going over THAT!”

But this gentle bridge in my town is  not one of them.

When there is no one else on the roads, I like to cross it and say, “See.  Look at me.  Bridges aren’t so bad.”

But, some of them are.

Others can go over them talking on their cellphone, eating, drinking coffee, not remembering they are on a bridge.  There’s a bridge in Mackinac, Michigan (webviews) that is five miles long and they have to employ “drivers” at the toll booths at both ends for those cars that “rear” up at the last minute and confess to the toll collector their fears.

I guess they have found out that there are many folks who lose nerve right at the last minute  and if they rear up in any number they clog  bridge  traffic.

I wonder if that infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” had monies for surrogate drivers “to nowhere”.

Maybe if it was a bridge that went nowhere, I wouldn’t mind going over it.  It’s fear, of course, that makes a horse refuse to jump, or a driver refuse to cross.  Irrational or rational fears feel the same, by the way.

What I can’t figure out is whether it’s fear of the journey or the destination.

©Pat Coakley 2009


©Pat Coakley 2009

11 comments on “"Oh, No. I'm Not Going Over THAT."”

  1. that’s funny, I grew up going over the Mackinac Bridge to visit my Grandmother in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. I can remember sitting in the back seat as a kid, holding my breath, thinking, ‘how long can this bridge be? what if we went over here? how bout here? here?’ until we were over it! So what did you do Pat? Pull a 180 here?

  2. Crossing a bridge like that is the ultimate in commitment. We place our hands firmly in the grip of fate and push the pedal down. For turning around is not an option . . .

  3. Wow. I’d never heard about this bridge. I don’t generally have trouble crossing bridges (my sister, though is a much different story!), but I think this one might give me a moment of panic … maybe more than one!

  4. Renee, I have not ever done the 180, but I simply avoid the bridges I don’t like! This one in town is no problem at any time of day. Gives me the illusion of mastery!

  5. Tysdaddy, Maybe it’s the turning around option that I miss? Not the journey nor the destination. I’m not sure its rational, actually.

  6. Stacie, If the bridge is flat I have no problem, it could go on for days..but those slow rising suspension bridges. I lived in SF and The Golden Gate bridge and the Oakland Bay bridge were never a problem, though. I think it’s age, what isn’t?

  7. once i drove up the steep narrow winding mountain road to taos, new mexico. i was so scared that i was afraid to drive back down it again. so i stayed there for a few days, and met some people and found someone to drive my car back down. i sat in the passenger seat, this Indian woman drove and her daughter followed behind. i actually enjoyed the views as a passenger, but i dont think i can do narrow mountain roads. bridges though, i’m used to, weaned on the sagamore and the bourne bridges. but a five-mile long bridge? i dunno, i get goosebumps just thinking about it!

  8. When my wife and I go to France later on this year we will be going about an hour out of our way (on the way to Spain from Italy) to drive over the Millau Viaduct which is a bridge that’s road surface is 341m (1108 ft) off the ground and it’s 2460m (about a mile and a half) long.

  9. Reminds me of that Cheever short story “The Angel of the Bridge” about a man who’s afraid of crossing bridges, particularly the George Washington. There’s a wonderful passage in there: “It was at the highest point of the arc of a bridge that I became aware suddenly of the depth and bitterness of my feelings about modern life, and of the profoundness of my yearning for a more vivid, simple, and peaceable world.”

    Whenever I see a bridge, great or small, I think not of those who fear to cross it but of those charged with building it. Their burden is most certainly the greatest.


  10. Tipota, the first bridge I ever balked at going over was the Bourne Bridge and I had grown up around it as well. Later in life, all of a sudden….don’t mind being a passenger at all! So, I totally get your story of the narrow mountain road in the passenger seat.

    Razz, Now, I can hardly wait till you and Engogirl go on this trip! You’ll be able to post pictures (I hope) and that way I’ll feel like I’m actually a traveler again. I am going to look up this Viaduct…1108 feet high? Yikes.

    Oh, Chris! Mentioning John Cheever to me is instant wavelength. I haven’t heard him discussed for years and now since Updike died, I have noticed in NYTimes that Dick Cavett did several columns, showed Youtube videos of the two of them being interviewed. I remember LOVING his stories when I was younger and first reading them. I don’t think I read the one you are referring to but I’m going to now! Thanks for the reference. Now, I’m going to think of my bridge aversion as perhaps my yearding for a peaceable world.
    Sounds better than fear, I can tell you that.

  11. There are a few of these bridges in FL… near St petersburg & the Keys. I never knew about the drivers. Last time, our GPS told us we needed to make a right turn off of one of them to get back to our route. Curses on me for not setting that thing up right :)

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