Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.
— Dan Rather
Now that I am back home and away from college, I am presented with a brand new irritation to add to the agony of graduating. And no, it’s not my mom reminding me to clean my room. But I might as well tack that on while I’m at it.
I’m talking about traffic. And not just your run of the mill, 3-hour wait, Los Angeles traffic. I’m talking full blown, there’s-no-reason-this-should-be-happening-right-now, Oregon traffic.
Outside of a liberal, eco-friendly ploy to convince people to stop driving entirely (because even those tin-foil green cars can’t escape this inconvenience), I often have no idea why a certain bout of traffic exists.
I will be driving down the road, minding my own accelerator, when all of a sudden red lights glare up in front of me like the irises of grim-horned demons. Slamming on the breaks to refrain from making this already lengthy trip into something even less enjoyable (though I imagine the tow truck might get to use the emergency lane), I curse my timing as the whole freeway comes to a standstill.
Fortunately, I don’t have the added vexation of trying to switch into the seemingly faster lane (which, through the demented magic of David Blaine, always turns out to be the slowest lane): we’re all just crawling forward at the speed of a history lesson on the creation of the dishwasher. There’s no point in trying to get over.
But to make matters worse, it always seems to be the case that the cars on the other side of the freeway are just zooming by. And no, it’s not just the fact that they’re moving; they’re exceeding the speed limit and seem to have four extra lanes to cruise around in.
They might as well be the kid that got the awesome baseball bat for Christmas, while I just got a pair of socks. And now they’re reminding me of their awesome present by clubbing me in the head with it.
But I sludge along. I try to find a radio station that doesn’t exacerbate my already boiling ulcer. I try to crane my neck to see when this torture might end. I try to convince myself, “Hey. If you had taken the back streets where you could do an easy 40mph and enjoyed the fresh summer breeze, you probably would have got in a crash or something. This is for the best.”
I revile that logic.
However, as I slither around the bend in the road, I notice that cars are starting to speed up again. My heart lifts! My curiosity soars! Was it a crash? A nasty accident? A beautiful woman flashing drivers?
Nope. It’s nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. There is no explainable reason for why we all nearly turned the freeway into a bumper car rink, why we all almost started ramming the cars in front of us just to get that sudden thrill of moving the speedometer out of the numberless region.
But hey, we’re driving quickly now. And it’s not like things will slow down again, right?