September 1, 2016

Flash Fiction By Gary A. Schlueter: "Hoosier Gridlock"

I publish the Whitewater Valley Guide which is a free, digitally distributed ezine-thing dealing with entertainment and enlightenment options in the Whitewater Valley of southeastern Indiana and southwestern Ohio. I've recently been receiving a lot of praise for my work from my 3,500 subscribers, make that from some of them. Anyway, it's gone to my head and this is just one result.

Stop Sign IVJ

Hoosier Gridlock

    I’m no Hoosier. I’m nice, but not that nice.

    Hoosier’s always want the other guy to go first, and that can by a trying experience for a hustlin’ Buckeye who might be caught behind one of them. Let me explain:

    Say you’re driving in a small town in rural Indiana not far from the Ohio border. Ahead of you is a four-way stop. Naturally, the car in front of you comes to a stop. Then, as luck would have it, three other cars at their relative corners also stop exactly at the same time.

    Nothing happens. No one moves. They’re all Hoosiers and therefore far too nice to go before somebody else.

    After about 30 seconds, which seems like an eternity to you, you start to get edgy. It comes over you who they are and that you’re not one of them. Still, being an outsider, you’re reluctant to blow your horn. So you wait.

    Pretty soon the hand signals begin. First one, then the other, then another, and so on. Back and forth, each one smiling and making more elaborate gestures. Before you know it, all four drivers are waving the other drivers on and again, as before, nothing happens. No one moves.

    By now the traffic is beginning to back up and still no horns are sounding. You know by that fact alone, you’re not in Ohio anymore.

    One after the other, the drivers, whose arms are now tired from all the signaling, start shaking their heads. They’ve been in eye contact most of the afternoon now and are beginning to know each other pretty well. One after the other they wag their heads side to side signifying they aren’t going to be the first to go no matter how nice you ask.

    Then begins a silent chorus of ‘No, you go.’ You can read it on their lips if you take the time and have really good eyesight. ‘No, you go.’ ‘No, you go.’ ‘No, you go.’ ‘No, you go.’ This goes on for awhile.

    All in all, it’s very time consuming. In fact an enterprising short order cook at Nixie’s near the corner of Sixth and Main in downtown Brookville when he sees the phenomena we’ll call Hoosier Gridlock, has time to fry up and deliver dozens of hamburgers to the by now hungry drivers backed up in traffic waiting for the first one to turn.

    When it’s particularly bad, like today, he’ll have plenty of time to deliver dessert.   

    By now, not being from Indiana, you’ve got steam coming out of your ears. You’re grumbling and growing old while the Hoosiers in the lead cars still smile and nod knowingly to one another.

    Amidst an admixture of rage and dismay, a growing respect for local tradition comes over you when you realize, they’ve been through this before.
~Gary A. Schlueter

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