I-5 Time or Spatial Distortion

Time Distortions


NOVEMBER 3, 2021

I and my passenger experienced a time or spatial distortion driving on I-5. We were headed North bound around 10pm in the middle of the week having entered the highway on the exit near Pine St. Our destination was my passenger’s home in Northgate, exit 173. We had traveled this route numerous times before at similar hours with the typical non-existent traffic of the pandemic. We both lit up a cigarette, light green American Spirits, at the highway entrance as it was the customary timing to ensure we finished our smokes just as we arrived at her house but no sooner. As any smoker knows, cigarette timing is a thing, especially if you don’t want to chain smoke while driving. Just after passing over the Ship Canal Bridge, we found ourselves blowing past exit 173! Measuring it later, it would appear we jumped four miles North in the blink of an eye! At first there was silence between us, but then one of us spoke up. Did that just happen? We compared notes, and both felt very confused and unsettled by the event. Turning around at the next exit we made our way to her house expecting to spend more time given the detour. We parked outside her place to finish our cigarettes and talk about the experience. That was when we realized we had a little more than half of our cigarettes still left to smoke! We were both completely sober, and not particularly fatigued or tired that night. I was not speeding as I don’t speed, and I had an annoying OBD2 device plugged into my car, recording my speed and location, in order to get lower insurance rates. It made me hyper aware of never breaking traffic laws, and I do not believe this was a typical “autopilot” driving experience. On my solo drive back South, I lit another cigarette as an experiment and smoked it at an abnormally slow pace. However, I still finished it before getting back home on Capitol Hill, even though the time and distance should have been longer given that the two of us didn’t light up until the Pine St. exit when we headed North. Cigarette timing is a thing after all. I’d experience the same phenomenon once more about a month later with the same passenger, on the same route, starting and ending at about the same place, around the same time. It hasn’t happened to me since.

Submitted by Thesp