The temperature was in the mid-nineties and the humidity was not far behind. Nine miles into my run I was approaching the crest of the two-mile long bridge that crossed the bay that separated the mainland from the island, and I was leaning over the guardrail to catch my breath. I was dog-tired, dehydrated, and my feet felt like they had swollen to twice their normal size. (Getting older sucks, but it’s better than the alternative.)
To my surprise, a New Jersey state policeman, kitted out smartly in his pressed uniform and wide-brimmed hat, pulled alongside me. “What are you doing on my bridge?” He asked from the cool confinement of his air-conditioned patrol car. There was an undisguised tone of concern in his voice. To hear what he was saying I removed one of my earbuds.
I saw my face reflected in his Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses. Since I was trying to cross the bridge, I thought about asking him if his question was like why did the chicken cross the road, but he did not look like a why did chicken try to cross the road kind of guy.
“Are you okay?” He asked. “You don’t look okay.”
“I’m fine. Why did you pull me over?” I asked. “Was I running too fast?” He did not look like a was I running too fast kind of guy. I just heard on the radio a news report saying a guy looks like he may be ready to jump off a bridge.
“I got several calls about a guy on the bridge who looked depressed. Are you thinking of jumping?”
“Am I thinking of jumping what?”
“Jumping off the bridge. Are you sure you are okay? You look depressed.”
“I think I look like I just ran nine miles.” I placed my right leg on the top of the guardrail to stretch my hamstring.
Eighty feet below me a small armada of boats had dropped anchor and the boaters appeared to be having impromptu tailgate parties in the middle of the bay. Everyone was looking up at me, and some appeared to be filming, so I waved. I could hear a few of the boaters yelling for me to jump.
I could hear the thwump-thwump of a television news helicopter as is hovered overhead, its parabolic microphone pointed in my direction. (I embellished my story a little to make for a better blog, but it’s my blog.)
“Take your leg off the bridge, and back up slowly,” the officer commanded as he slowly approached me. “I was about to call for a police helicopter and rescue divers. Are you sure you are okay?”
To me, the entire dialog was starting to sound like the Bridge of Death scene from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.
Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What… is your name?
King Arthur: It is ‘Arthur’, King of the Britons.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I… I don’t know that.
[he is thrown over]
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows?
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you’re a king, you know.
I was going to ask him if his helicopter would give me a ride back to our house in Ocean City, but he didn’t look like a give me a ride back kind of guy. If I continued across the bridge, the home was only two miles away. If he did not let me cross the bridge I had to double-back those same nine miles. “May I continue across?”
“No, you can’t do that from here.”
An interesting statement, You can’t do that from here.
I was analyzing a hospital’s website. There was a link on the homepage stating that if I clicked it I would be able to schedule an appointment. (It was right next to the link telling me that if I clicked it three times I could continue across the bridge and go home.)
I clicked the scheduling link. The next webpage told me how much they wanted to help me schedule an appointment and how important my health was to them. The following webpage told me about all the services I could schedule. The final webpage told me that if I wanted to schedule an appointment I should call the hospital Monday through Friday between eight A.M. and five P.M.
The website’s scheduling web page should have included a 24-point, bold disclaimer stating, You can’t do that from here.
Like trying to cross the bridge.