Posted Speed Limit Taunts Rush-Hour Commuters
The blank stare of a 55 MPH speed limit traffic sign was the bane of the approximately 150,000 cars that passed between mileposts 36 and 37 along the Edens Expressway during Wednesday evening rush hour. The menacing presence of the posted speed that commuters could only dream of achieving caused many to curse, others to weep, and the rest to suffer in silence as traffic reports reminded them every ten minutes that it would take another 40 to get into the downtown Chicago.
"Out, out damned sign!" screamed Donna Noonan as her eyes became locked on the number 55, then wildly shifted to her current speed of approximately 1.3 miles per hour. She would later say that the numbers seemed to contain "pupils under maniacal eyebrows" that stared at her menacingly and unflinchingly. "Stop fucking looking at me! Oh, cruel, cruel world! The pain, the pain!"
Her three children riding in the back seat of Noonan's mini-van expressed concern amongst each other, asking themselves, "Why are Mommy's knuckles bleeding?"
The inanimate and immobile sign reminded many commuters, who achieved an average roadway velocity of five to ten miles per hour, of their "insignificance in the universe", the "uncaring and impersonal nature of the modern age", and/or the "uselessness of struggle in opposition to adversity and irrelevance", according to surveys conducted during the rush hour.
"All is nothing, nothing is all!" declared George Winton, construction contractor, attempting to alleviate the crushing stress of immobility in the face of the legal posted speed limit.
"I tried everything – smoking, swearing and beating the passenger seat with my first," Winton later told reporters. "Nothing would have satisfied me – even a blowjob – besides getting my Acura, which was built for speed, up to at least half the legal speed limit, and I would have needed a Panzer tank for that."
Though not quite identical to the archetypal punishment of Job at the hands of opposing forces Good and Evil, many commuters beat their breasts and cried out to the Eternal anyway, demanding to know why they had been selected for such unending torture.
"As the book of Matthew has stated, ‘There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth' at the End," said Bishop Pena of the Episcopal Diocese of Lake County. "I can only imagine that the Lake of Fire is right around the next bend in the road, given the condition of everyone on this expressway."
Punching the steering wheel and casting a vile of Holy Water in the direction of the accursed sign, Bishop Pena clasped his hands in despair and cried to the Heavens, as his tears fell like blood upon the dashboard, "Take this cup from me! Get me to thine holy exit ramp, o Lord, if it be Your will!"
Highway and state personnel, such as Highway Patrolman Edward Wanton, served to compound the woes of the weary travelers, possessing the legal power to defy the seemingly impenetrable gridlock and travel the highway in a manner impossible for normal commuting mortals to attain.
"Ha, fifty-five miles an hour my ass," snorted Wanton as he passed the cruel reminder of what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men. "I don't give a shit -- I can make a U-turn whenever I want. And I will, oh yes, I will. I need to get out of this place, because I'll get more speeding violations off a nursing home wheelchair ramp than here."
Adding as he spun his squad car through the gap in the barrier wall reserved for emergency vehicles only, Wanton exclaimed, "Fuck this shit, you poor dumb bastards!" Commuters looked on woefully and clenched their teeth as Patrolman Wanton cavorted in wicked laughter.
To make matters worse, the speed limit sign, or "Mark of the Beast", as Bishop Pena referred to it, only gave way to its minions, which stated every half-mile that U-turns were legal for "Emergency Vehicles Only" and took their turns tormenting commuters even as the hordes slowly passed the speed limit reminder behind them. Though the cold and remorseless hand of progress caressed each commuter with equal vigor, some felt its icy touch to be more unbearable than others.
"The pitiless sun! Prison bars! The Honda Element before me!" screamed Jacob Tyson as he struggled to maintain composure while creeping towards his destination at a slower velocity than the speedometer on his car was capable of measuring. "The Heavens are not humane!"
Appearing as a Savior to many, the speed limit sign and its minions were soon replaced by the notice for an upcoming exit ramp, reading in all its glory "Skokie Blvd – 5 miles". Many expressed relief that the sadistically ironic speed limit notice was no longer their curse, but some had reservations about the promise of freedom that lay so many miles ahead.
"You'd think that was good news, huh?" remarked Tyson to reporters. "That's funny, because I've been on this ass-sucking expressway for half an hour and have gone maybe one or two miles, tops."
Inhaling deeply and flicking a booger onto the passenger door of the car next to him, Tyson did express relief that, "at least the eye now upon us is one of hope and redemption -- not the bleakness of eternal suffering and diesel fumes."
Those who did manage to escape the clutches of the signs raised their arms and shouted praises upon being delivered from the yoke of the evening commute home from work.
"Praise be to our noble redeemer who cometh to take his children home as lost flock of…" began Sister Hellen as she reached the on-ramp on her way to Wednesday mass, looking skyward in thanks and admonition before rear-ending the stopped BMW in front of her.