Friday, March 20 – The Light at the End of the Bridge


Vallejo 6:35 a.m.
I browse the line of cars this morning, passing by the first two tiny cars and choose a safer looking larger sedan. This week has been about one day too long and I am not happy about going to work. So I’m picky about my ride today. In the back seat once again but behind the driver, which is unusual. A child’s car seat is on the other half of the seat. It appears the couple in the front seat are together. She’s driving. Both are jean-clad in their Friday fineries. I’m wearing my gym clothes under my coat, ready for another morning workout. I’ll suit up for work afterwards.

It’s very much Friday light on the 80 freeway this morning and we are moving along. Dawn breaks at about 7 a.m. and the East Bay hills to my left are a jagged silhouette against the gradually brightening sky. Around the curve and down into the Berkeley stretch and as we pass by the cement freeway supports of an adjoining exit ramp a pigeon darts out of a cleverly made nest in a crevice of the cement and briefly flies alongside the car.

Off to my right the Golden Gate Bridge is a pale line against the soft blue haze of the early morning bay. My white egret is bending over the water in the East Shore marsh area, probably checking out his breakfast choices.

In the midst of these scenic lovelies a piercingly bright illuminated supersized billboard is flashing an array of advertisements. It is like an out of place Las Vegas casino sign, and is right alongside the freeway near the bridge. I’ve seen it before when I’m leaving San Francisco, and it’s visible a mile away on the morning freeway which circles the bay.

The March 2 New York Times had an article “Roadside Marquee – Drive to Distraction” about these new high tech digital billboards. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/technology/0)

The gist of the story is that these billboards, which change images (and advertisers) every 6 to 8 seconds, are yet another dangerous distraction for drivers who may be already texting and cell-phoning. Concerned lawmakers in both Michigan and Minnesota are holding hearings on legislation that could put these digital signs, that include video and animation, on hold.

I agree that they are a huge distraction; as a passenger I have to really stare at the flashy spectacle to read the message, something I could not be doing if I were driving.

On top of that, they’re just plain ugly and a real eye sore on this lovely San Francisco landscape.

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