As I pulled out of the parking lot at work, I really thought that the conditions were perfect for a chance to break the record. It was 3:30 in the morning. A majority of the traffic lights on my way home would be blinking, and there would be very few cars on the road. The weather was cool with no precipitation.
The world record for making it from my office to my house has stood at 15 minutes for more than six months. But maybe, just maybe, this trip would drop my journey into the elusive sub-quarter-hour time.
Things started out great, as the first three lights on Liberty Avenue showed a constant green. At the left turn to Crosstown Boulevard I had to hesitate for just a second as a Police car passed me in the opposite direction. Then, at the entrance to the Liberty Tunnels, I hit my first red light. Luckily it was near the end of the cycle for the intersection, so I wasn't going to lose too much time.
The light switched to green and I entered the tunnel. I noticed that the cars in both lanes in front of me had their brake lights on, and as I got closer I could tell that they were almost at a complete stop about an eighth of the way through. Who stops their vehicle in a tunnel at 3:30 am? Did they have simultaneous car trouble? Or were they just trying to sabotage my record attempt?
As it turns out, they were slowing down for a deer. A gangly, semi-coordinated teenage white-tail. Apparently it was looking for a quicker way to the South Hills than a hike over Mount Washington.
So there we went for the next ten minutes or so. Six miles per hour. Traffic stacking up behind us. Watching the hind-quarters of this animal as it clumsily made its way down the center line of the Liberty Tunnel.
It was easy to see that animal hooves are not engineered for concrete. Sometimes this deer would stop and turn around, like it had realized the error of its decision, and I'd have to ease the Corsica over towards the middle a bit. I would shine my headlight right between the cars in front of me as if to say, "keep going you goofy animal. You've already ruined my attempt at a world record and there's no reason for you to run into some car behind me, too."
Meanwhile, some people were honking their horns. Very helpful. Thanks for that.
Anyway, after what felt like forever we finally made it to the end. If you are wondering what a deer does after a lengthy trot through the Liberty Tubes, it takes the first exit ramp and heads toward the West End. He probably won the dare and was going to have to wait for his deer peers who chose to go overland. But to the victor goes the salt lick.
Needless to say, I did not break the record. Even if the conditions are perfect, there are many factors that are out of my control as I attempt to make it home in less than 15 minutes. Red lights. Other drivers. Some crazy deer.
But what can I say? He probably broke his own world record time for getting to the other side of Mount Washington.
At least one of us did.