The Rocky Road overpass

Published December 12, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a town with a highway going through it. Another road crossed the highway via an overpass. That other road was called “Rocky Road” because it was strewn with rocks from the nearby hillside.

A long time ago there had been a war, and the people of the town had won it in the Battle of Rocky Road. It was a very important part of the town’s history, and many people had grandfathers and great-grandfathers who had fought and died in the Battle of Rocky Road.

imageBut there was a problem. Every few months, someone would walk onto the Rocky Road overpass and throw rocks — big or small — onto the cars below. It would cause terrible accidents, from small fender-benders to huge pile-ups. Many people died in crashes caused by the people throwing rocks.

After the third (or fourth) such incident in a year, some people suggested that maybe cleaning the rocks off of the Rocky Road overpass might help solve the problem of crazy people throwing rocks at cars. After all, they just had to walk to the overpass and there were rocks everywhere. They demanded that the town remove the rocks.

But other people got angry at this idea. They had ancestors who had fought at the Battle of Rocky Road, and the whole point of the name was that, well, the road was covered with rocks.

The people who wanted to clear away most of the rocks agreed that the road was important, and they didn’t want to remove all the rocks. But it seemed pretty obvious to them that having so many stones located in a place with such easy access to the highway was asking for trouble.

The Rocky Road Preservation Society was formed to make sure that the road remained as rocky as it had been. The RRPS pointed out that anyone sick enough to throw rocks at cars (and try to hurt people that way) would simply throw the rocks from somewhere else, or they would bring their own rocks to the Rocky Road overpass.

“But,” said the people who wanted to make Rocky Road less rocky, “While that’s true, don’t you think we’re making it a bit too easy for people to throw rocks at cars, by having so many of them in such easy reach?”

“No,” said the Rocky Road Preservation Society. “Having a lot of rocks on the overpass isn’t the issue. The fact that we have sick people willing to throw them — that’s the issue. If it wasn’t rocks, they’d throw sticks. And there are a lot of sticks on the overpass as well.”

When it was pointed out that a stick thrown at a car was a lot less damaging than a rock, the president of the RRPS told the story of his brother, whose car had been hit by a stick and who lost control and crashed because of it. “Sticks can do the same thing rocks can,” he insisted.

The ‘clear-the-road’ supporters pointed out that, sure there were cases when a stick or a branch caused a crash, but rocks (especially some of the larger ones on Rocky Road) were a bit more dangerous, don’t you think?

The RRPS disagreed. Sticks, snowballs, garbage — if it wasn’t rocks, there were other things to throw at cars. Anyone who really wanted to would find something to throw onto the highway. Further, they argued, what if a criminal is making a getaway down the highway? By having rocks on the Rocky Road overpass, good citizens could get there and use them to stop the outlaw from getting away.

When the ‘clear-the-road’ people suggested that doing something like that would probably result in a lot of other cars being involved in an accident, the Rocky Road Preservation Society accused them of dishonoring the brave citizens who had fought in the Battle of Rocky Road.

And thus, the people of the town did nothing about the Rocky Road overpass. And as the years went by, more and more people died in car accidents because someone would go onto the overpass and heave rocks into the traffic below. And every time it happened, the townspeople would shake their heads and wonder what could possibly be done to stop it.

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