If you live in or near a major city you know the pain of commuting. The blood, sweat, tears, and expletives that are inexplicably linked with trying to get anywhere between the hours of 6-9am and 4-7pm. Part of the struggle is, admittedly, the sheer number of people who decide to live a little farther away from the constant excitement (read: chaos/mayhem) of the city. I am guilty of being one of those people. BUT there are far worse crimes!
Allow me to present to you my own version of the 8 deadly commuter sins.
(in no particular order)
1. Going Beyond the Merging Point- You all know this person. You might even be this person. The merge has already ended, there is ONE lane, and this too-good-to-be-behind-you Snickerdoodle is now driving technically off road to get ahead of you. Well, as the beloved character Naomi from Naomi in the Living Room would say, “Screw you and the horse you came on!” It’s not that hard. You merge every other car. Watch:
Car in lane
Car in Lane
See? It’s not rocket science! YOU CAN DO IT, AMERICA.
2. The Incompetent Fender-Bender- Remember when you had to read that common sense driving handbook? In it were instructions detailing what to do in the case of a minor accident. For instance, you should NOT stay in the middle lane of 395 at 7am taking pictures of that tiny scratch on your back bumper when everyone is trying to stampede the city of Washington. You definitely should not be putting out cones taking up half of another lane. Pull. Over. Otherwise I reserve the right to glare at you and perhaps demonstrate the elegance of my limited sign language.
3. No Signal, No Problem- Except it is a problem. A major problem. Also, please take note, flicking your turn signal on AFTER you’ve started to change lanes does not count. This is a four lane highway with a 5th merging lane that only lasts a few hundred feet and is desperately trying to meter two lanes of merging traffic. If you want to get over as we’re crawling along, put on your turn signal. Otherwise I’m not leaving a space. And when your tiny smartcar tries to dart in at a 90 degree angle, you’re going to be squashed and I’m going to be furious.
4. The 18 Wheeler from Hell- It’s big, mean, and will merge when you’re right in the middle of the truck’s hulking frame. In my head, I sometimes calculate if I could possibly pull a Clark Griswold, you know, if the situation called for it. Usually the answer is no. Passing the cab is like seeing the light at the end of the Baltimore Tunnel. It’s beautiful and you’re thankful that it’s over.
5. Riding a Bicycle Without a Brain- Let me first disclose that I have friends that bike. If I was more confident in my abilities, I might have become a city biker myself. I 100% support a biker’s right to safety. What I don’t support is a biker who runs a stop sign and then has the nerve to shake their fist at me WHEN IT’S MY TURN TO GO. Also, hand signals. They exist for a reason. If you want to change lanes that’s fine. If you expect to do so without any kind of hand signal do not expect the car in the far lane to read your mind and know to slow down. Finally, the dotted line between lanes is NOT a biker lane. A small vindictive part of me really wants to open my car door when I see you come pedaling down the middle like the apocalypse is chasing you. You are not above traffic laws. And I hope a bike cop gives you a ticket.
6. Driving Under the Speed Limit- Hundreds of cars on the road can certainly inhibit ones ability to drive the posted 55MPH. I understand this. However, there are beautiful, merge-less stretches where the highway opens and everyone can just…go. It’s lovely. Unless the Buick in front of you forgets how to accelerate. In the far left lane (note: The farther left you are the faster you are supposed to go). Just because the normal rush hour max is 35, it doesn’t mean you can’t accelerate to 55 when you can! You can do it! And if you can’t, get over. You are the reason traffic backs up needlessly. Did you know there’s a minimum speed? Look it up. It exists.
7. When Stuff Falls from the Sky- It doesn’t matter if it’s rain, hail, or snow. If there is any form of precipitation people drive like the world is about to end. Stop that. You know why all those cars are on fire in the movies? People driving like idiots. Now, in my personal experience there are 2 kinds of idiots.
a. The overly aggressive idiot- This individual weaves in and out of lanes, generally goes about 80, and honks needlessly.
b. The overly cautious idiot- This individual clutches the steering wheels and goes 25 everywhere except in the 25mph zones. Then they go 5.
Both are equally dangerous. If there’s ice, yes, I agree, slow down. But if there’s a drizzle of rain coming down from the sky you do not need to race home to get into your ark or crawl along because you may hydroplane on the drop of water in front of you. Keep calm and drive like a normal human being.
8. Seat Hoggers- Welcome aboard your local transportation system. Please take a seat. Unless the lady with 20 bags has already secured her groceries with a cozy window spot. Or that guy has his legs so far apart he may be stretching for ballet class. In that case, you’re screwed. Please commence clinging to the poll next to the 90 year-old woman. You may win bonus points if you catch her every time the train stops because a teenager camped out in the last handicap seat. People, can we please exhibit some form of manners? Put groceries on the floor and your lap. Get out of your seat if you can and offer it to an individual who needs it. And in the name of romance close your damn legs! I don’t care how comfy it is, you’re a “beetle-headed, flap-ear’d knave” (Credit for knave insult belongs to Shakespeare- thanks, BIlly!).