Johnson Bridge and the Tar Bollards
This is a parody of Victoria BC politics folded into the American Folklore story “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby” (https://www.americanfolklore.net/brer-rabbit-and-the-tar-baby/). This is a classic trickster folk tale, and versions of the same story occur around the world. For more information on the original story, slavery, and racial discrimination, see https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/11/527459106/tar-baby-a-folktale-about-food-rights-rooted-in-the-inequalities-of-slavery.
Well now, that rascal Tweeter Juno hated Johnson Bridge on account of he was always riding his bike and getting places faster than she could. So, Tweeter Juno decided to publicly humiliate Johnson Bridge if it was the last thing she ever did! She thought and she thought until she came up with a plan. She would make some tar bollards! Tweeter Juno went and got some sticky coal tar and she mixed it with some turpentine and she sculpted it into three bollards. Then she painted a yellow band on the tar bollards and sat them in the middle of the bike lane.
Tweeter Juno parked her SUV near the bike lane, rolled up the tinted windows, and waited and waited for Johnson Bridge to come along. At long last, she heard someone whistling and chuckling to himself, and she knew that Johnson Bridge was coming up over the hill. As he reached the top, Johnson Bridge spotted the cute little tar bollards. Johnson Bridge was surprised. He stopped and stared at this strange infrastructure. He had never seen anything like it before!
“Good Grief,” said Johnson Bridge, doffing his helmet. “What's this doing here?”
The tar bollards just sat there. Tweeter Juno laid low and grinned an evil grin.
Johnson Bridge tried to slip around the tar bollards, but there was no room. Tweeter Juno grinned some more and leaned back in her seat.
Johnson Bridge frowned. This strange infrastructure was blocking the bike lane. It was beginning to make him mad.
“Ahem!” said Johnson Bridge loudly, wondering if city staff had lost their minds. “I guess it's time for some tactical urbanism!”
The tar bollards just sat in the middle of the bike lane looking as cute as buttons and obstructing everything. Tweeter Juno wiggled back and forth in her seat, fit to bust because she didn’t dare laugh out loud.
“Out you go!” Johnson Bridge yelled. He grabbed a tar bollard, but his hands got stuck in the tar.
“Fine, be that way!” Johnson Bridge said and kicked at the tar bollard with both feet. They sank deep into the tar bollard. Johnson Bridge was so furious he head-butted the strange infrastructure until he was completely covered with tar and unable to move.
Tweeter Juno leapt out of her SUV and strolled over to Johnson Bridge. "Well, well, what have we here?" she asked, grinning an evil grin.
Johnson Bridge gulped. He was stuck fast. He did some fast thinking while Tweeter Juno rolled about on the road, laughing herself sick over Johnson Bridge's dilemma.
"I've got you this time, Johnson Bridge," said Tweeter Juno, sliding her SUV neatly into a bike lane. "You've sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?"
Johnson Bridge's eyes got very large. "Oh please Tweeter Juno, whatever you do, please don't make me live in a fifteen minute neighbourhood."
"Maybe I should tear out the bike lanes and make you license your bicycle," mused Tweeter Juno. "No, that's too much trouble. Maybe I'll run you over with my SUV instead."
"License me! Run me over! Do whatever you please," said Johnson Bridge. "Only please, Tweeter Juno, please don't make me live in a fifteen minute neighbourhood.
"A fifteen minute neighbourhood, eh?" said Tweeter Juno. "What a wonderful idea! You'll be trapped there forever!"
Grabbing up her cell phone, Tweeter Juno thumbed furiously, and pretty soon all of Twitter, and all the NextDoor NIMBYs, were demanding fifteen minute neighbourhoods. Even the local Radio Rambo got busy "just asking questions." Before you could close your eyes, tap your heels together three times, and say "Gonzales" fifteen minute neighbourhoods were popping up everywhere.
Then Tweeter Juno picked up Johnson Bridge, swung him around and around, and flung him head over heels into a freshly traffic calmed neighbourhood with corner stores. Johnson Bridge let out such a scream as he fell that all of Tweeter Juno's hair stood straight up. Then there was silence. Tweeter Juno stared at her cell phone, looking for tweets of outrage and pain. But she saw nothing. Tweeter Juno peaked over the fence at the discord, listening for Johnson Bridge's death rattle. She heard nothing.
Then Tweeter Juno heard someone calling her name. She turned around and looked over a newly built traffic diverter. Johnson Bridge was sitting at a cafe sipping a latte and looking smug.
"I was born to live in a fifteen minute neighbourhood, Tweeter Juno," he called. "Born to live here."
And Johnson Bridge sipped away as merry as a cricket while Tweeter Juno ground her teeth in rage and went home.