Two Open Letters to Traffic (Day before Thanksgiving, 2012)

21 Nov

Dear Holiday Travelers,

What evil spirit possessed your trip-planner and whispered: I have a GREAT idea. Let’s time our trip around that major beltway for the morning rush hour?? Because neither you nor I nor the other people on the beltway this morning would call that an intelligent decision.

You need to get to Grandma’s or Aunt Sue’s? Wonderful for you. I still need to get to work and do my pizza-ordering part to educate America’s future.

Rush hour on the beltway is not for Sunday drivers. This is serious shit, yo. We have the narcissistic assholes who sometimes like to think the shoulder is a lane. We have the video-game addicts who want to see how many “close-shave” points they can rack up. We have the Soccer Moms who will stop at nothing to dispose of their little angels in the arms of grumbling teachers who would really rather be on their way to Grandma’s or Aunt Sue’s. We have the defensive-aggressives whose entire goal is to get to work in one piece and avoid engaging with any of the narcissists, gamers or moms. What we do not have are people unfamiliar with the typical ebb and flow of volume suddenly slamming on their brakes. What we do not have are drivers begging to be hit because they refuse to drive at-speed. What we do not have are caravans driving four lanes across waving at each other in happy ignorance of the honking chorus outside their cocoons of noise-cancelling luxury cars.

Your traffic is going to suck no matter what time you leave, so please have a little compassion for those poor schmucks still making their usual trek to the office.

Sincerely,

Penny

Dear Fellow Commuters Frustrated by above Holiday Travelers,

Ugh. I know. I KNOW! Really, I do. I have to get to work, too.

However, Holiday Traveler’s ill-advised decision to tackle the beltway during rush hour is no excuse for your imbecilic reaction. You know better, Fellow Commuter Frustrated by Holiday Travelers! You know better.

It’s tempting to weave between them – to show them how this beltway is done. But you forget, Fellow Commuter Frustrated by Holiday Travelers, that these are Holiday Travelers, not Fellow Commuters. Holiday Travelers do not know how to handle your prowess behind the wheel. They are distracted by the kids’ animated movie in the backseat. They are already contemplating tomorrow’s food coma. They don’t know to listen to our favorite radio station for traffic alerts and updates. (And even if they did, the mess of road names and exit numbers would be Greek to most of them and Mandarin to the Greeks.)

We are frustrated, yes. But we must be patient with these innocents led astray by the evil spirit possessing their trip-planners. They deserve our compassion in equal measure with our contempt. (Or, at least require compassion in the utilitarian interest of the greatest good for the greatest number. We do no one any favors if we get Holiday Travelers into accidents. No one, no favors.)

So tune to the classical radio station and turn down the news about the impeding fiscal cliff and the escalating conflict in Gaza because the holidays are almost here and you’ll probably get a half-day at work.

Lots of love,

Penny

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