Bridged Gapping


This was a while ago but I was thinking of a Reuters article that said police in Russia accused a man of stealing a bridge from a river crossing in the Ryazan region east of Moscow. (I know that’s a lot of setup to a sentence. I’m sorry.) And I realized that I hope he did it. Imagine being accused of something like that if you hadn’t done it. It could take hours to even understand the accusation. You can try yourself to see how hard it is to answer by going to anyone you happen to know has not stolen any bridges from the Ryazan regions near Moscow lately and accusing them. (Be careful. Many people thinking they’re joking will confess on the accusation. Insist they show you the stolen bridge before calling the authorities.)

I bet they accused him first thing in the morning, too, when he was barely awake and hadn’t even got all the drops of toothpaste goo out of the corners of his mouth. I just know that’s how they’d accuse me if they ever wanted to accuse me of stealing a bridge, and I’ve never even been to Russia.

No need to ask why he’d want to steal a bridge. I figure everyone occasionally looks at a bridge and considers how fun it would be to take it away for your own purposes. It’s important to me to think that. I’m not sure which bridge I’d steal if I had the choice, though. You can’t take something like the Brooklyn Bridge, because you’ll be plagued with tourists, and it probably wouldn’t fit in the yard.

I might try taking this one that goes over the Raritan River and that everyone I know refers to as the Driscoll Bridge, though the Driscoll Bridge is actually the one next to it, but nobody knows its real name so the wrong name is close enough. But I can’t steal it, as it’s gone anyway, replaced years ago with one less steep and with much less personality. I don’t remember hearing what happened to the old bridge. Maybe some plucky Department of Transportation official has a souvenir.

The bridge the man was accused of stealing was only five meters long, which in United States units comes to … uh … 627,498 miles? That seems high. Once you get past about 25,000 miles you’re going in circles. Well, it’s small-ish, which maybe was a factor in choosing to steal that one. Maybe it neatly fit a model railroad layout that was demanding new attractions. Or maybe it was the only bridge around that wasn’t a toll bridge and didn’t have an attendant watching. But he was apparently a municipal worker. Maybe he was the attendant. It would raise fewer questions if a toll bridge’s attendant were carrying the bridge somewhere than if it were just a random non-uniformed person carrying it, right?

If you’re going to steal a bridge, I wonder how you do take it. Taking it in one piece means not having to figure out how to put it back together, but you have to pull it to one side or the other. It might seem like a lot to haul a five-meter-long bridge around by yourself, but I’ve managed to move a fold-out couch down one and a half twisting flights of stairs by myself with no greater challenge than explaining what I was doing to the guys in the apartment a floor below me when I was temporarily stymied and they were blocked in.

Really, the hard part is making sure you haul the bridge to the side of the river you want to take it to. I know that’s the part I would get wrong.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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