Sunday, May 30, 2010


Sometimes things work out the way they should.

I was driving eastward this morning on Interstate 394. I was in the middle lane, traveling at about 60 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone. I noticed an unmarked police car stopped on the shoulder ahead on the right, signaling to return to adjacent the traffic lane. An SUV in the right lane ahead of me signaled to move into my lane to give the police car room to maneuver. I responded by moving to my left, entering the "Sane Lane" reserved for car poolers and transponder renters during the week. As I switched lanes, I arrived at the end of the access point and two double white line appeared on my right, together with the corresponding traffic sign admonishing me not to cross the double white line. The police car pulled out and remained about 4 cars back. I was relieved that he was not interested in me driving 5 m.p.h. over the speed limit.

Almost immediately thereafter, I noticed a black Cadillac CTS approaching me in the Sane Lane. It looked like one of the cars movie stars drive in commercials, fast, to convey how fulfilled you'd be if you were driving one, too. The driver behind me must have seen the commercials because, from the rate of his approach, he was traveling at more than 70 m.p.h. I make it a point not to cross the double white line or exceed 61 m.p.h. when I don't know if law enforcement is in the area. This morning, I DID know and maintained my speed and lane position as the CTS came up on my tail, probably frustrating him as he mocked my waste of of my sports coupe. Rather than ram me or slow down, the CTS switched into the lane to our right and passed me. I checked my mirror again and confirmed that the unmarked police car was still four cars back. :-)

Like a closer at Canterbury, the police officer sped up, gave me a look as he passed me on the right, positioned his car behind the CTS, turned on his lights and guided the CTS to a stop on the freeway's right shoulder. I assume the CTS received a speeding ticket. I hope that he was also, at least, warned about crossing the double white line. If you're in or next to the Sane Lane, having someone dart across when you aren't expecting it is like having folks running red lights as you approach on the green. In this case, the scenario played out like I thought it would as soon as I noticed the CTS coming up behind me. Sometimes things work out the way they should.

Sometimes things don't work out the way they should.

The drive this morning was to a cemetery in Edina to attend the unveiling of the gravestone of my departed friend, Tom Silver. Jewish tradition is to wait about a year after burial before putting up a gravestone. Although more than a year has passed since Tom's death, I haven't accepted the fact that he's gone. He and Rabbi Cohen and I celebrated our birthdays together each year. Tom's last steak and last scotch was at one such celebratory dinner a few days before he died at 67 years of age.

Tom was one of the smartest people I knew. We served on the new synagogue construction steering committee together; Tom was the chair. I covered for him at one meeting of the synagogue's construction contractors and was completely bewildered by all the complexity of the decisions that he regularly dispatched at the weekly gatherings.

Every year Tom raced a souped up Mustang in the PanAmerica Race up the length of Mexico. He always did well. In his last year of life, he won the race for the first time. It occurred to many of us that Tom figured he had nothing to lose by taking extra risks in that final race. Racing a road race in the Third World in his mid-sixties, he was already a legend on the circuit. Winning that last race gave him permanent legendary status.

The service at the cemetery was brief but touching. Brunch at the Silver household was bittersweet. On the surface, Tom's wife, son and three daughters appear to be doing well. But I couldn't help thinking that it was a gathering that was happening 20 years too soon. Sometimes things don't work out the way they should.