One such crossing stands out in my mind as clear as if it has happened today. On my way to Holland Tunnel I got stuck in traffic for more than an hour. This was before cell phones got surgically attached to our hands and ears, so I knew my parents were worried. Crawling at 5 mph, inching towards the tunnel, I realized it would be a long while before I could call them from a payphone.
Once inside the tunnel the traffic’s stopped all together. I had nothing to do, but switch from one AM radio station to another. I’ve sensed an uneasy change in our surrounding, but couldn’t pinpoint what has changed. We started moving a few feet at a time. No cars came in the opposite direction in the left lane. I found a talk show and, finally, got distracted from the anxiety of the idling traffic.
Suddenly, I noticed the wetness of the walls. That was why I never felt comfortable in tunnels. This was not happening! There was no way to back out and I continued crawling seeing more water on the tunnel walls. My hands turned cold and my feet got numb. Tears started coming out of my eyes without me even knowing. This was the end, the end of my life. My poor family, what they will go through! I won’t even have a chance to say good bye, or to tell them how much I loved them.
The water was now coming down on both sides around me. I could hear it with my windows closed. Why did I drink so much coffee? How could I think of going to the bathroom at this time? I wondered how long would my car float before the water reached the ceiling? How fast would it fill up? I could see my books at first swimming and then slowly landing on the floor of the car. I could see the convertible in front of me turning over. I couldn’t see myself. I didn’t fit that picture.
The speed picked up a little, and even more water came down from the ceiling. Waiting to spot the Welcome to New Jersey sign I listened to the tunnel radio station. They either had no idea that something was wrong or, to avoid the panic, chose not to inform us about the disaster. Any moment the tiles will fly away and the waves will gush in and wash away all signs of life.
A few more yards meant another minute. I was still driving. The now cascaded from the ceiling and the walls. I approached a huge vehicle moving slowly in the left lane. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear the radio. I welcomed the noise. It made sense. The roof of the vehicle had extended arms with brushes that rotated near the ceiling. I lined up with the monstrous vehicle. Those glistening clean white tiles! I couldn’t stop laughing for the next 20 miles.