Number of Days

Every day on my way home from work I pass a sign. The sign has an electronic display that keeps a tally of the number of days “since the last serious accident” along this particular stretch of road — a stretch of road that apparently tends to be prone to serious accidents. The first time I noticed the sign, it displayed a single digit number — I think it was 9. Then I began to take note of it each day as it passed into double digits, into the teens and twenties. I kept thinking back to when it was at 9 and it seemed like just yesterday. Have two weeks already passed since then? And now three weeks, a month? And then I stopped noticing it for awhile. And then one day it hit me with 154 days since the last serious accident. Aside from wondering what qualifies as a serious accident and whether there had been any unserious accidents that verged on serious and who would be responsible for making the call to reset the sign to zero — aside from those nagging thoughts — I harkened back to that day I first noticed it at 9, and once again it seemed like just yesterday. For a few days it hit me like that and I marveled at the smooth and terrible expanse of days from 9 to 154, 155, 157-8-9, where time seemed to stretch out like a forest clearcut. Then I stopped noticing the sign again for awhile. Well, I’ve looked at it for the past couple of days again. It is up to 183, and it no longer seems to point back to that day I first noticed it, Day 9. Now it seems horribly slow moving — quite the opposite of how I previously experienced it. I keep expecting it to be in the two- or three-hundreds, maybe into the thousands. But it just sits there on 183, barely budging.


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    You now long to receive the call to set it back to zero.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    Reminds me of the old McDonalds tally of burgers served, which finally merged into Carl Sagan’s “Billions and Billions.”

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