Recipe for a glimpse into an alternate universe: take one diesel tanker on one major freeway, and shake.
Such was I-630 (the inexplicably named 10-odd mile stretch through Little Rock that somehow got an “I” in its name) this evening as a diesel spill blocked all westbound traffic during rush hour. All traffic had to be moved off onto side streets. Creative commuters opted for the north route on I-30 and I-40, but were also stymied due to volume.
The importance of this is that, to someone like myself who had no idea what was happening (this was 6:00pm, after all the radio stations have ceased their regular traffic updates), the experience becomes a massive, uncertain, and vaguely paranoia-inducing shared experience with more people on the road than I’ve ever seen in this town. It’s especially bizarre for me because I commute from midtown to the hinterlands so I’m going the opposite direction of everyone else for most of my trip. When you’re seeing a solid wall of cars in the oncoming lanes for miles, you have to wonder if everyone knows something you don’t. The experience is what I imagine a citywide evacuation might be like. If some pre-apocalyptic event were to occur in Little Rock – alien invasion, poison gas leak, Godzilla – this was a sneak peek at its manifestation.