Friday, October 12, 2007

The Mill Hates Traffic

Warning: This will not be a happy post. I will be writing about something that I despise so much, it will totally blow your mind. You can't even begin to imagine the astronomical abhorrence I feel towards bad traffic. I dry heave when thinking about it. And even worse when stuck in the middle of it. How much do I hate traffic? Let me help you understand. But please, before continuing with this post, make sure you ask any small children to leave the room, and keep your legs and arms away from the computer screen at all times.

Imagine yourself gliding effortlessly down the highway, heading home from a difficult day at the office. It's time to relax. You earned it - climate control set to your liking; iPod connected to the 6-speaker stereo via a convenient glove compartment jack; singing along to your favorite KISS tune ('Christine Sixteen', or maybe 'Calling Dr. Love'). You haven't a care in the world. You know dinner is waiting for you - from the night before when you ordered too much Chinese. And you're looking forward to cracking open an icy frost-brewed lager of some sort. Or even just breaking the neck off that bottle of vodka that's been sitting in the freezer for 2 years. You hate vodka, but it'll do the trick, and it's been a long week.

Just a guess, but I'm betting that KISS hates traffic too. They just want to party every day, and rock 'n roll all night, or something like that.

Suddenly, and without notice, brake lights begin to blink up ahead. They get larger and larger. Redder and redder. You yourself might want to think about braking right around now. But it's been such a nice ride. You were making such good time. And an evening of relaxation and recuperation had already been fully planned out in your mind. Well guess what? Those plans have now been officially shot to hell, in a handbasket. And the handbasket is on fire. With your wallet and passport inside. And maybe a couple of puppies. And a whole bunch of cash that could have been yours but is now on its way to hell. That would really suck, huh? And so does traffic. Because that's what you're stuck in. Get it? Bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 South just north of New Rochelle. Not even halfway home.

And you can't help but wonder, "Who's the asshole at the front of this logjam?" Because, logically, there has to be a point at which the traffic jam begins. And at that point, there has to be an asshole, or group of assholes, holding everything up for the helpless mass of humanity that is now stalled on the highway behind said asshole(s). Perhaps some jerk wasn't paying attention or was on his cellphone, and slammed into a tractor trailer, causing it to jack knife and burst into flames (it's a gasoline tanker), blocking 2 lanes of traffic with an intense wildfire and debris. Or maybe some douchebag was driving far above the legal speed limit, and lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the divider, bouncing back into the left lane, and crashing into a truck transporting hundreds of chickens. Bad for the chickens, but worse for the drivers who find themselves engulfed in a blizzard of feathers. Visibility would be terrible. What a mess.

A couple examples of what the douchebags at the front of that traffic jam may look like.

But worst of all, and one which demonstrates the very worst that our species has to offer, is the asshole who slows down to a crawl to gawk at something on the other side of the road. Thus causing the frustratingly irrational and imbecilic Gaper Block, or Rubbernecker. It's the most mystifying type of jam up because invariably, whatever it was that made those first few people slow down isn't all that interesting. I've seen gaper blocks caused by overheating cars, cars with flat tires, common roadkill - deer, raccoons (a rhinoceros or panda bear would be reason to slow down and ogle), or someone pulled over by the police. It's ridiculous. I hate it, because now I have to slow down too. And I'm not interested in whatever it is that everyone's pausing to look at. I just want to get home.

So what to do? I don't know, you tell me. Buy a helicopter? Take only backroads? Or just suck it up and spend 25% of my waking hours in the car. Right now, I work about 37.5 miles away from where I live. That drive should theoretically take 45 minutes. But last night, it took more than 2 hours to travel about 30 miles. Granted, there was severe flooding all around the greater New York City area, so at least I have an acceptable explanation for which asshole was at the front of last night's traffic jam - that asshole is named "Waist-deep Water." In any case, there've been plenty of other occasions on which I've been swamped in horrible, miserable traffic for no discernible reason of any sort. No accidents. No bad weather. Just too many people on the road at one time. That's what I get for daring to drive anywhere near the biggest city in the country. Shame on me.

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