The Mast-Head: Welcome Back, I Guess

    Driving home from the office on Tuesday evening, I was surprise to notice that I was in what amounted to a traffic jam — well, for East Hampton Village, at least. Cars were backed up at the Newtown Lane light and jockeying to merge left to get onto North Main Street. A truck had earlier run into the Accabonac Road underpass and become stuck, adding to the confusion.
    There’s a renewed rumble outside the Star office windows on Main Street as Memorial Day weekend gets closer. There are more cars on the roads, more people, longer lines at the lumberyard and at Bucket’s when I go to get a sandwich.
    A year or so back, when things were at their worst, economically, the lunch line would have been served and out the door by 10 minutes after noon. This spring, there are customers ahead of me when I get to the deli as late as 1 p.m. Does the sandwich line mean the difficult tide has turned? I hope so.
    Those of us who live here year round experience a mild sense of surprise every year at this time, tinged, we have to admit if we’re honest, with just the littlest twinge of resentment. While they were away, we kept everything running, and here they arrive as if they owned the place! The faces on the lunch line are unfamiliar. The cars lined up to turn at Egypt Lane are different.
    It is funny that in a semi-suburb such as this, we know one another as much by what we drive as anything else. Subconsciously, we catalog the familiar among our social surroundings, recognizing people according to which 2,000-pound assemblage of metal and plastic they are in.
    That white van, the one with the guy yakking on a cellphone? The one with the city-style padlock on the back? No, I definitely have not seen you before, nor most of the other vehicles in this traffic jam.
    And so I went east on Pantigo Road, feeling a bit like a visitor my self.