My regular daily commute takes me from the north end to Northgate every morning and every afternoon. I know the route. I know the alternate routes. I know that I can make it in 15 minutes on a superb day – and maybe 30 minutes when other motorists have decided to play bumper cars before me. I know how to tell when it’s a good day and when the commute is going to try my patience. I know the twists, the turns, the quiet pavement areas and the grooves in each lane. I know which lane to be in at each point in the commute to avoid common slowdowns. I know my commute.
This week I’ve had the pleasure of commuting down South to Beacon Hill one day and Auburn the next. I know my commute – but I certainly don’t know other people’s commute. And I don’t think I care for it, either. The Express Lanes – by pure virtue of their name – should indicate that it is a magical form of shortcut to help you sneak by all the other chumps stuck in traffic while you sling-shot ahead of them. Not so! The Express Lanes let you think you are rocking the traffic party, that is until you reach the point you actually want to join your I-5 brethren. At that point, the full cast of the Secret Society of Express Laners have to all merge into a single lane in order to rejoin the I-5 speedway. Apparently my fellow commuters that are far more experienced in this area have decided that this merger is done best while at a complete stop.
I may have just traveled the last 5 miles in 5 or 6 minutes – but the next 1/4 mile is going to take me 10-15 minutes. And I bet many a Sociology thesis have been written on the practice of those folks that ride the open lanes only to cut in a the last moment. Those folks likely think that they are the far superior commuter by virtue of their vast driving and time-saving abilities. The rest of us, on the other hand, have just waited 10 minutes in line and be damned if you think we’ll let you merge in and further encourage the degradation of society.
And it’s not just the Express Lanes – I just don’t like other people’s traffic. I don’t really know how long it will take. I don’t know the best lanes to be in along any particular point en route. And while I may apply a reasonable amount of patience to my traffic, I really have very little to give towards the traffic of others. Luckily it’s not an everyday occurrence – because then it really would become my traffic.
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