I live on a road with limited possibility. If you take the turn after crossing Ring’sEndBridge, you’ll be led to a few other streets and lanes, but otherwise it’s a beautiful circle that leads you down one side of a peninsula to Long Island Sound and back out the other.
The name says it all, actually. Ring’s End. Roads that end with “End” are not thoroughfares, and people must figure this out shortly after turning onto this route from thePost Roadbecause many of them decide to turn around. By the time they figure this is wrong, we’re about their first option. Some use the driveway of the Catholic Church to get righted, but since it’s a one-way exit with a sign that says, “Private Drive No Trespassing,” most pull into the rectory drive.
Every day someone pulls into the driveway. I used to think we had company. But that was ten years ago. Now I know someone’s just lost. My office, where I do a lot of writing (right now, for example), overlooks the front drive. I like that. I see all the dog-walkers and joggers headed for the beach. I see the Postman. And I see the U-turners.
A few years ago I thought I ought to put up a sign. “No Turns.” Plenty of people do that. Maybe we should too—we certainly draw enough traffic to justify a sign. That was before I thought about it. Why would I forbid U-turns? Is it because I’m tired of people using my driveway like a public street? Do I feel trespassed upon? Do I resent the disruption on my quiet lane? Or is it simply because I don’t like the let-down of discovering that most of the folks who pull into my asphalt little path are merely lost and are not looking for me at all?
One rainy night last week I was writing in my office. A van pulled in the drive. New Yorkplates. Clearly a disoriented motorist. Since I’m on the second floor and directly over the drive, I have a bird’s eye view. The driver is a woman. Most pull a quick U-ey and head out, but she is stopped. She is on the phone, animated, clearly frustrated, lost, maybe even angry. My imagination gets me on the party line. “My God, Paul, these directions are totally wrong! I thought I was turning on Old King’s Highway and I’m on some God-forsaken Red End Road. There’s no map in this car, no GPS—I have no idea where Rowayton is! It’s pouring out here, I’m late. Oh God, Jenny must wonder where I am!”
I was about to put on my slicker and go help, when she backed out.
I think now that I will put up a sign. “U-turns Welcome (and May You Find theGood Road).” Maybe it’s because I am directionally challenged, and get lost a lot, and pull more than my share of U-eys in strange driveways, but I sympathize with U-turners. After all, if you’re headed down the wrong road and you know it, it’s the only thing to do—as soon as possible, now. This is what churches—and maybe rectories—should be, places where people can make U-turns. With our blessing.