I am a pretty easy-going person (the laughter you hear across the nation would be how loud my friends and family members are guffawing about that claim right now), but contrary to popular belief, it’s true. Even commuting has been a relatively stress-free situation for me on the whole, and I have been doing it for over 10 years. Lately, though, it is growing increasingly difficult not to rear-end people or scream at bad drivers all up and down the highway.
I have taken on more tasks than I probably should lately, and while they are all things that I enjoy doing, they leave me with a much shorter fuse than I usually have. But that is the rational explanation, and what fun is that? Instead, let’s take a look at the people/things I am going to blame for my current state. This allows me to use one of my favorite phrases on the planet – “I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was going to blame you.”
Those Damn Message Board Highway Signs
One of these signs is located on the freeway about seven miles from my house. This seven miles is six lanes wide and typically has no traffic. Smooth sailing all the way through, unless this damn sign is turned. Then that seven miles turns into a 45-minute clusterfuck of nonsense that enrages me to no end. These signs have their purpose; when they are lit up with Amber Alert information, I will happily sit in stopped traffic for hours if it means a missing child has an increased likelihood of being found. When the sign says, as it has for the past three mornings “No Hands-free Cell Ticket, $171, Not Worth It!” I am compelled to scale it under the cover of darkness and systematically bash out every light bulb with my bare fists. The traffic backs up for 5 miles and proceeds at a crawl until the exact moment I reach the sign, then opens up to smooth sailing. I have added a cumulative three hours to my drive this week and it is all because of this evil notification device. Rage.
Drivers Who Refuse to Merge With Some Dignity
There is a junction on my drive home where two major freeways intersect. Four lanes, two coming from each freeway, become three; the center lane ends and cars must file in like sheep. There is rarely a day that goes by where I don’t have to fight to merge in. This infuriates me. Look, the lane ends, there is nothing any of us can do about it, and riding the ass of the person in front of you so that I can’t get into my place in the line isn’t getting either of us anywhere more quickly. In fact, I would guess that the reason the tie-up is so bad right there is because of the assholes who refuse to let a car in, creating a “butterfly flapping it’s wings in Africa causing a hurricane in Florida” type situation. This also goes for cars merging onto the freeway from an on-ramp. When a driver gets pissed at me because they are flying up the slow lane at 85 MPH while I am trying to merge onto the road and get up to speed as quickly as possible, it takes all my self-restraint not to slam on my brakes while they are all up on my ass. On the flip side, if a car merging onto the freeway going 35 MPH while they chat on their cell phone and has no respect for the cars already on the road by trying to get up to speed, I get angry. Merge with some freaking dignity, that’s all I ask. Argh.
Drivers That Do Awful Shit to People on Motorcycles
I get it. When someone is stuck in stop-and-go traffic and a motorcyclist is lane-splitting (safely) past you, the jealousy is overwhelming. There, they are, tooling along past you while you are stuck like a rat in a cage. They are going to be home with a beer and some trashy TV while you are still waiting for the people to stop reading the damn highway sign and DRIVE for goodness sakes. If that jealousy leads a driver to – all things I have witnessed in my years on the road – open your door to block their passage, swerve into the lane they are splitting, or move as far over as you can to the car next to you so they can’t get through, that driver is an asshole, full stop. Whether one likes it or not, safe lane splitting (not traveling over 10 MPH faster than the flow of traffic) is legal in many states, like here in California. There is a pretty substantial trade-off that a motorcyclist makes to have the “luxury” of lane-splitting, and that is the whole “not-being-surrounded-safely-by-thousands-of-pounds-of-steel-and-airbags-to-protect-you-from-other-drivers-so-if-a-dick-decides-to-endanger-my-life-by-pulling-some-stupid-shit-I-am-probably-going-to-die-a-horrible-painful-death.” Not an insubstantial trade-off. The people in the cars need to remember the dangers of riding a motorcycle and respect the people on the road who decide to take that risk as safely as possible.
Conversely, Dumb Ass Motorcyclists
On the other hand, few things piss me off more than irresponsible motorcycle riders. Lane-splitting 30 MPH over the flow of traffic? Rage. Flying down the freeway at 90+ MPH, zipping in and out of lanes? Rage. Sitting in my blind spot for miles? Rage. Driving like an idiot with a passenger on the back? RAGE. There are plenty of responsible motorcyclists on the road that are directly affected by that nonsense, both in insurance premiums and the perception and subsequent behavior of other drivers. Quit it. Also, please, please, PLEASE don’t ride a motorcycle in shorts and a tank top. Remember that earlier thing about absolutely nothing between the motorcycle and the road to protect someone? At the very least, put a layer of clothing between oneself and the ever-present danger of body thrashing road rash.
People With Blatant Disregard for the Law
The carpool lane is for carpools, the speed limit is there for a reason, put on the damn seat belt, not heeding the “Not Worth It” warning on the stupid sign while chatting away on their cell phone; I could go on and on. There are a number of ridiculous laws on the books in this country, laws that should be questioned and fought against. The above mentioned are not those laws. When a sole person enters the carpool lane, it may not seem like a big deal, but when a bunch of drivers do it, it means there is now traffic in a lane that is there to reward people for carpooling. We have all driven over the speed limit, whether it is to keep up with the flow of traffic or because the road is empty and one wants to feel the wind in their hair; I get that. I refer to the jackholes who race other cars, tailgate, and general speeding jackassery. I know the seat belt thing is debatable, but it is the law in California and I am so tired of being pulled over because my husband isn’t wearing his. And while I am sure many people can talk on their handsets and drive just fine, there are too many times every single day where I find the person driving like the biggest douche is the same one that is on their phone. Get. A. Headset.
Commuting is a huge part of my life, unfortunately, and one that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon. I spend between 2-3 hours a day in my car, five days a week. Because I live in California, public transportation isn’t an option because all of my local systems are expensive and an absolute joke, time-wise. I am convinced that if I could hand this article out to the other drivers on the road, we could all make our long slogs a little less painful. Maybe I’ll see if they can run it on the highway sign.