Chapter 14
Five Points

They went, um, that-a-way.

In Texas, five points most often refers to a star for the Lone Star State. In New England, it refers to an intersection where five roads come together. We have "Five Points" intersections in many towns, and they're all dangerous. Mostly these days, they have very complicated traffic signals that take forever to go through a cycle.

In general, road intersections are often not nice, square, rectilinear crossings. No, they are often at angles or have lots of roads spinning out from a point. New England roads were laid out like Olde England roads, that is, more or less straight from one town center to another. If there were more than one other town of interest near this one, then there would be more than one road, and, somewhere in the town, there will be an intersection where the roads come in at whatever angles. Hence these odd-shaped intersections with either high accident rates or incomprehensible red-light cycles.

Five roads seems to be a popular number to meet in the middle of a town. There are way too many intersections called, locally, "five points." Most of them are either confusing or deadly. Even the GPS gets confused. "Keep right" may imply one of several different roads.

Aside: our GPS, Nancy, understands traffic circles (or rotaries or roundabouts or whatever your local lingo calls them). At circles, she will clearly say, "Take the second exit to blankety-blank Road. But at "five points" (or more) confluences, she reverts to keep right or keep left or turn right or something that is often insufficiently specific at twenty or thirty miles an hour. "Turn right on blankety-blank road" is fine if you are in the right lane and if you are going slowly enough to read the sign -- if there *is* a sign, ha ha. That's another story. Fortunately, if I take the wrong road, she recalculates and gets me back on the straight path. Thank you, Nancy.

Aside aside: Why is our GPS named Nancy? Well, thanks to the Beatles and the Firesign Theater, we know that, if names are confusing or hard to remember, "Everyone knew her as Nancy." Q.E.D.