Categories
Life

Commuting = Rage Blackouts

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

Highway message board that reads "These Signs Make My Commute Hell on Earth" with cars and semis in traffic
Make your own at http://atom.smasher.org/highway/

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.

6 replies on “Commuting = Rage Blackouts”

Yes, YES, YES! Oh, I’m feeling your pain and rage! It’s the other people on the roads that drive me nuts. And that motorcycle thing really gets to me. Both my spouse and my brother ride bikes, so when I see people trying to cut bikers off or putting them in danger in any way, I want to slam my car into theirs. Of course, since I drive a tiny compact, this is probably a bad idea, but back in my days of “mom van,” I could’ve made a significant difference in their lives!

But on one eventful day on an L.A. freeway, someone swerved toward my brother, he swerved out of their way, took a spill, and someone else ran over his foot. Fortunately, some quick thinking guardian angel in a Jeep slammed on his brakes, stopped traffic and kept the lane blocked, keeping Little Bro’ safe from further damage.

In Indiana we have two seasons- winter and CONSTRUCTION (all caps). This year, there was hardly a winter, so Construction season started early. There are three major projects going on within a five mile radius of my house, and they have made my commute to the point of ridiculous. I learned a long time ago it’s worth going 10 miles out of my way to avoid sitting in traffic- it helps to quell the rage. Part of the issue in my area is that the infrastructure wasn’t built to handle the ridiculous population growth that’s happened in the past 15 years. So they’re fixing some things, which is awesome. But when there are only 3 major routes to cross an major interstate, and one of them is completely closed for three months, insanity is bound to happen. Ugh.

LOL, I’ve lived in Montana a few times in my life. They have the same two seasons there!

They also have two types of roads… those with potholes and those with recently filled potholes. (Although, I’m starting to think that about my current home, as well. Any place with real weather, I guess.)

I swear like nuts as well.  And if there is a back up because people are gawking at an accident and the cops are there, I will hit the horn.  It may be an asshole move, but really it’s more of, “Hey, Bozo, pay attention to the road in front of you so you don’t cause another accident!”

I swear like a sailor when I’m driving.  It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.  That and blasting the radio.

I flicked off a red light camera a few weeks ago (mature, I know).  I was trying to turn left and the light went through FOUR CYCLES without giving me a left arrow.  It was insane.  Honestly I don’t know why I sat there for so long, I think I was just half curious to see how long I’d sit there until I got a light.  After 12 minutes (according to Mr. Nonsense, he often times lights) I went straight and did a U-turn. This was, of course, ridiculous because it was a Sunday and there was hardly any traffic so I could have easily turned left.  But who needs common sense when you have a light telling you what to do and a potential ticket hanging over your head?

/end rant

Leave a Reply