Michael Borden | Greetings from a not-so sleepy little town

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The beautiful little suburb of Great Barrington I just moved to is home to one of the worst speed traps ever seen in a democracy. Drive through Egremont at more than 25 mph (20 if school's in) and your odds of getting pinched far exceed your chances of getting broadband service once you're here.

From the outside, a speed trap is a nuisance. That all changes once you move to one. These days, I sit on my screened-in porch rooting for Egremont's finest. I'm afraid they're in over their head. As the major road into the Berkshires from New York, commercial traffic on Route 23 is non-stop. Oil tankers, 18-wheelers, modular homes with their own escorts, behemoths lugging earthmoving equipment. It wouldn't surprise me to see a flat bed go by carrying the space shuttle. I'm glad the economy seems to be moving. I just wish it wasn't moving right past my house.

The traffic's not only fast (for a notorious speed trap), it's loud. The landlord assures me that soon I won't even notice it. Hopefully, not due to hearing loss. In the meantime, every wheezy Jurassic garbage truck is a chance to practice letting go. The trees are majestic. The stream is bucolic. The gardens are verdant. All is perfect in my world — except for those three friggin' motorcycles that sound like a trio of chainsaws in my living room. I try to go to my quiet space. There isn't one.

Instead, I count vehicles going by, (nine per minute on average, each doing around 40 mph) and try not to hate each occupant for earning a living or driving home to their families. Sometimes, I get in my car and join the parade — keeping it to 20 (even if school's out) as a moral example to everyone behind me. Yes, it's passive aggressive. But the alternative is actual aggression. I've considered nail strips, hand grenades and laser pointers in the eye. Each scenario ends with me hopping in my car and running from the cops. It's a slow speed chase, of course, 25 mph, (20 if school's in) but finally I'm caught. The judge sentences me to go back home.

A speed trap and a noise trap. There's a reason this is such a sleepy little town. Everybody's up all night.

This house, I'm told, used to belong to a 40s era movie star. I've re-watched his films to see if he wears hearing aids. The Hollywood cemetery he's buried in is right off the 405.

Some people never find peace.

Michael Borden is a Berkshire-based writer looking for some peace and quiet. He has a long history of adding noise to the culture and considers traffic din to be fair payback.


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