Streets of Ire

I am currently working two jobs. On Wednesdays I leave my job at a law office, walk home, change, and get in the car and drive to my other job as a waiter. Usually I make it to the restaurant at about 6:20 or so.

I managed to leave the office a little early, got back to my apartment, changed and got in the car. There was nothing unusual about the trip down 9th Street, until I crossed Constitution. It was then that I realized that traffic in the 9th Street tunnel was backed up the light. In fact, I believe that my car was in the crosswalk when the light changed to red. Once you cross Constitution you are stuck, there is no other way to avoid the 9th Street tunnel.

Quickly, I resigned myself to the traffic and called my restaurant to tell my manager that I was going to be late.

The 9th Street tunnel has three lanes, the left lane goes to 295, the middle lane goes to Maryland Ave. (I believe but I don’t really remember), and the right lane goes to 395 south. When I said that traffic was backed up to the light on Constitution, I meant the right lane, my lane, was backed up, the other two were clear and moving fine.

At about 20 minutes after crossing Constitution I see the first car move to the middle lane to drive past the traffic. Now, I had assumed that some of the people who have been driving past me were planning on joining my lane right before the exit, but now I had visual evidence of the crime.

It is right about now that the anger starts to build. I just don't understand the mind set that allows a person to do this. How can a person look at traffic and decide that they are too important to wait through it? Do they have souls? Do they think that they are clever, as if no one else realized that the lane to the left was moving faster?

One of my old bosses use to say that the lowest circle of Hell is reserved for these people. I spent the next 10 minutes or so picturing what their torment would be like. I envisioned them trapped in a car with the air conditioning broken with Rush's "Tom Sawyer" playing endlessly. The on ramp to Heaven just a 1/4 mile away, but no matter how fast they drive, Heaven is always 1/4 mile away. But this vision left me unsatisfied, ironic punishment is great and all, but I wanted lava, fire, and imps poking eyeballs. I wanted unimaginable torment.

So I don't know if it was the blatant disregard for their fellow man, the fact that I was going to my second job of the day, or that a lot of people speeding by me could afford to choose the color of their car and no one chose purple, but I decided that no one was going to merge in front of me. This was my mission, this was where I was going to make my stand.

At this point I still can't see the exit, and no one is trying to merge in front of me, so I decide to start practicing. For my plan to be successful I need to allow as little space as possible between my car and the car in front of me. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does traffic.

I finally get around the bend to see the exit and I am shocked. Some of the people who have been speeding ahead are trying to get into the right lane, but are doing it too soon for their compatriots. People are moving another lane to the left to get ahead of people who have already broken the bounds of decency. Three lanes of traffic trying to get into one exit lane.

While watching the display of vulgarity before me I realize that I have to re-double my efforts and focus. I realize that to acomplish my goal I can't focus on the blue car in front of me, I have to look to the brake lights in the next car in front. I can't react to movement, I must anticipate it.

Soon the first car, a white SUV, attempts cut in front of me, but quickly abandons his quest. I suspect he realized what I already knew, that I would rear-end the blue car in front of me before I would let him in. A car manages to get in front of the blue car the driver of the car starts honking and gesturing wildly. I feel a little less insane.

A few more cars attempt to get in front of me, but come to the same realization as the white SUV. I feel good as I come to the exit, I am clearly not a person to be messed with. The lanes start to split, I have suceeded!

But then...a Diplomat cab comes up on my left. I stay close to the bumper of the car in front of me, but the cab driver keeps pushing forward. The lanes have split but he presses on! When the lane divides there is a section of pavement that is not lane, it is marked to indicate that cars shouldn't be driving on it, but this cab driver expresses as little regard for the law as he does for common decency, and continues on. He is pressing on when he has clearly lost. But we are back out in the rain and the lane markers are tough to distinguish. It becomes confusing as to where the lane. I am hugging the right marker, while his car occupies less and less of the shoulder. I am pushing forward and then...

Defeat. I don't know how, but he got in front of me. After all the turning and confusion, the positioning and posturing, the Diplomat cab is in front of me. I imagine some sadistic smile on the bastard’s face. Rather than the champion of the right lane and all that is good in the world, my impotency is laid bare for all to see. He spent 2 minutes to accomplish what I did in 45. Actually he had done better, he was in front of me. After all of my determination and practice, I was beaten.


  1. In Los Angeles, it is a common practice of similar traffic bastards to actually drive on the shoulder of the 405 freeway during rush hour once they know their exit is the next one. Some friends and I thus concocted and began the practice of actually moving our cars halfway between the right exit lane and the shoulder in order to block the passage of these ginormous asshats. It's one of the most thrilling moments in life when you actually succeed at doing this ... there's some dick behind you driving nearly off of the road into a ravine to get around you. Keep vigilant, sir. They're time will come.

  2. I was driving with my friend Chris once in a similar traffic problem. The car in front of us pulled into the offending lane and drove at the speed of traffic, blocking the jerks who were trying to speed by. Chris stayed with him, so that he would have a space to return at the exit. People started honking at first, be were then resigned to the fact that there was nothing they could do.

    I guess my problem was that I had no help. We need to unite against a common enemy.