Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Road To Nowhere

     Mrs. Chatterbox loved the property, but I wasn’t sold on it. The house was everything we were looking for: stylish, contemporary, roomy, full of great design possibilities. And behind the back fence was a greenbelt with glorious trees. There lay the problem.
      The greenbelt had been purchased by the city years ago to build a road connecting two busy thoroughfares. I asked the realtor, “When will the city build the road?”
     He shrugged. “Plans were drawn up for it twenty years ago, but other projects keep siphoning off the funding.”
     “But it will be built?”
     “Yes, eventually.”
     That was enough for me. I told Mrs. Chatterbox we should keep looking.
     “Why?” she asked. “This house is perfect. I say we make an offer.”
     “What about the road? One day we’ll be looking out the window and see those glorious trees being bulldozed. And we’ll have a freeway behind our house.”
     “It won’t be a freeway,” she scoffed. “Just a two lane road.”
     We debated it for several days. I lost.
     We moved in and lived in that house for five years, and a day didn’t go by when I didn’t go to the window and fret over the fate of those trees. In my mind I could see them being toppled. I heard the sounds of chain saws, construction crews, smoke-belching machines laying down asphalt, not to mention the noise of incessant traffic: blaring radios, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars.
     Over the years, the city council repeatedly debated the road, reiterating the need for it
and the city’s determination to build it. Mrs. Chatterbox just shrugged when I expressed my concern—she was perfectly happy with or without the road—but knowing it would one day materialize behind my house filled me with dread. Eventually, I could barely stand the sight of those trees.
     I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally moved away. Decades have since passed. On a recent drive through the old neighborhood I saw a kid flying a kite in that greenbelt. Folks were walking dogs.
     The road still hadn’t been built.
     I felt like a jackass. If the city ever gets around to it, those trees will all be chopped down, but only once. In my mind I’d chopped them down a thousand times.

     Have you ever worried about something that never happened? Tell us about it.


  1. Oh my! Reminds me of a similar situation. We bought a home with beautiful woods behind it only to get notice after a few months that they were going to build an apartment complex there. The neighborhood complained and the company built an office building instead. Not exactly a win.

  2. Our house in San Diego had a lovely canyon behind, was supposed to be Interstate 15 some day, but built low to not bother anyone. We added a second story with lots of windows to catch breezes from the canyon. The next year they put in six lanes, and dumped the dirt from elsewhere to bring the level high and noisy and dirty.
    We moved to Vegas.

  3. I think we've all worried about things that didn't happen. I'm sorry you chopped down those trees so often though. Must have worn you out.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  4. Your story brings to mind the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. I'm always surprised by the number of people who DON'T do their homework and then are blindsided when something undesirable winds up being built next door. You were one of the smart ones.

    Glad things worked out well for you.


  5. I would have been the same, you were right to move.


  6. I think as writers we all have a tendency to worry about things that haven't happened yet. No one can predict the future so I say that as opposed to "never happen".

  7. Worry about something that never happens? Every day; every day of my life.

  8. My biggest hope is that one morning I will wake up and be a non-worrier.

  9. Me? Not so much. But MY WIFE swears by it. She insists that she is doing the world a favor. If she worries about it, it saves the rest of the world (me, her relatives, passing strangers, whomever) from doing so. And she is convinced that her worrying about things keeps them from happening.

    Who knows? Maybe it does, and I owe her a debt of gratitude.

  10. "I’ve seen many troubles in my time, only half of which ever came true."
    ~ Mark Twain


  11. I've heard it said that there's proof that worry works...most of what we worry about never happens. :)

  12. My rule is to refuse to worry about an unproven problem. Denial is a great tool.