On my rush hour drive home today, a CHP officer stepped out in front of a semi (excuse me, a “big rig”, as they call them here). He gestured for the big rig to stop using a two fisted hammering motion — the closest thing to a wave that he could make while holding two fists together. The car in the next lane slowed in turn and he stepped in front of it. He hammered toward me, in the third lane, and I slowed to a stop. Cars to my left followed suit and the officer crossed the other southbound lanes. A second man, holding his hands out in front of him in the same manner, followed.
The men were carrying something. I looked carefully and realized they were each carrying a fistful of ducklings. They stopped in the carpool lane and looked back toward the right shoulder. I followed their gaze and saw that the mama duck was there toeing the white painted line anxiously. The two men waited and she took a few timid steps into the first lane and then lifted off — taking a skittish flight to the barrier at the freeway median.
The two men climbed over the barrier to repeat their performance across the northbound lanes. Traffic on my side waited for a moment, though there was nothing stopping us from moving. I took the initiative, stepping on the gas. Cars behind me and in the other lanes followed suit. Two hundred yards ahead, I was back in 15 mph traffic.