of tunnels and sky

So unless you’ve had your head swathed in cotton for the past day or so, you’ve probably heard about the tunnel collapse here in Boston. It’s a tragedy in so many ways – for the woman, for her family, for the local government, for the taxpayers. But, as I wrote in an email to a colleague, I have a soft spot for utter failure, and as such I am glued to the myriad trials of the Dig like a slow-moving train wreck. It’s beyond horrible, but you just can’t look away.

So I called my parents last night, and they were pretty freaked out.

“how ARE you?” asked my dad, too solicitous, as though I’d been wounded.

“That could have been you and john!!” my mom said, over and over.

And while I suppose that’s true in some sense, I don’t see the point in thinking that way. It could have been any of us, that night, driving blithely to the airport. Or it could have been many of us, if the sky had fallen during rush hour instead of at midnight. It could have happened any number of ways, but my feeling is that at some point, it was bound to happen.

When I was a little kid, I loved driving the tunnels. My sister and I would shriek with delight as the car passed from the open air into the flourescent-lit underworld. I still do love cruising the new roads, both elevated and sunken, and marveling at the botched complexity of the whole thing. Let’s face it, the whole project should have been much better executed, and the corporate greed and corruption (along with general laziness and mismanagement) is almost wholly to blame for this tragedy. But guiding my car through the snarl of flyways near the Zakim bridge, I’m taken aback in the best way. And maybe, in some tiny part of my brain, that comes with knowing the risk.

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