Love and Traffic

I'm going to be up front with you, all five of you that have peaked in your head. This article has nothing to do with love. In fact, it has all to do with the opposite, hate.

I commute more than thirty minutes to work every day, weekends excluded. I know, compared to some that's just a walk in the park. For me, I can't stand being wrapped in 1300 pounds of steel and fiberglass sitting behind another person encased in the same unless I'm in the drive- through line, which I hardly ever am. I think it all comes back to elementary school. I wanted to be the first in line. I wanted to have the responsibility of leading the pack to PE. I wanted to set the pace. I didn't like staring at the back of Kyle's head. I didn't like having to pace myself behind the other kids' heels. I want to be in front.

Naturally, things change. Now, it's not so bad. I've learned that there are lines everywhere, some good and some bad. You have the lines leading up to Maria's Tacos. There's a payoff. There's the line at the DMV. Although it's brutal, maniacal, ruthless, and wry, there is still a payoff and you can at least move about until they call your name.
But traffic. I'm positive God assigned this to Satan. God said, 'here you are human. Take this car and go to work, go to school, never be late, and most importantly, go in peace.' Satan said, 'HEY! Look at the pretty police lights or the broken down vehicle on the side of the road,' which brings me to my first point.
Why, oh why, are we so entertained by a car parked on the side of the road? I drive down I35 and it is always possible there will be a car parked on the shoulder. Traffic could be going just fine Southbound past Oltorf, but the moment that car comes into view the road is reflecting red and yellow. People are staring, mouth open, eyes wide at this white Toyota Camry on the side of the road. Ooh, aah, it's a white Toyota Camry. I've never seen one of those before. I've always wondered what they look like. Do they come in other colors? Are they an indigenous species? I'm going to slow down to a stand still to make sure everyone else gets a beautiful eye-full.
It's not that interesting.
Perhaps the "Slow Down" is part of human nature. We all tend to switch things up when those things become too routine. Perhaps driving on a vast, endless stretch of pavement is just too routine.
And then, there's the cop on the side of the road with his/her flashing lights. I'm going to call this the Flash Effect, not to be confused with Female Breast Phenonemon, which also can be filed under the same name. We can also see the same behavior in moths. The light comes on, the moth flies toward it. This affects both directions of traffic, especially at night. We see the lights, we hit our brakes. It's not like the cop is going to pull us over. He or she has someone else that's occcupying his or her time. Why do we do it?
Then, there's the mysterious Invisible Line. When you are about to breach the end of traffic, you can feel it. In fact, you can see it. It's right there ahead of you where the cars stop being compacted and fly off at normally acceptable speeds. Why the line? What is telling us that we can now drive the speed limit? What was the limit before and who told us to drive it? The conundrum is confounding.
Here's how I see it. If you are entering, wait. If you are exiting, exit. If you are doing neither, stay out of the right lane. If you are in the middle lane or left lane, drive the speed limit. Stop staring, stop texting, stop eating. If you need to do any of these, you have time to pull over. I think the traffic reports should tell us who the jerk is holding up the line and tell him or her to move their leather seat down the street.
The same rule of thumb applies to residential and back alley. Drive the speed limit. There is no simpler rule than that. If you cannot abide by the speed limit rule, you have no reason to be holding on to a license.
There, I think I got out all my frustration.
I guess I'll see who read this by timing myself to work on Monday.

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