Lane Changers

image I don’t make it to the park on as many mornings as I used to but the chances are pretty good (approximately 9.5 out of 10) that I will be here on Saturday morning.  Yes, here.  I am wiriting this post in the park.  The odds are about 9.3 out of ten that I’ll stop on my way at McDonalds to get a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and a large coffee with two cream in.   Our local McDonalds has recently done a complete renovation, including installation of two ordering lanes in the drive through.  Noting that there is only one food lane … and being oh-too-familiar with the well-known aggressivenes of Socal drivers … I wondered how long it would be before there was an accident … or a fist fight … where the two ordering lanes merge.  However, McDonalds must have wondered, too, and carefully designed the merge point so that it is nearly impossible to advance out of turn.  It works perfectly.  Still, sitting in line this morning, the silver Honda CRV behind me in the order line thought our line was moving too slowly, so he backed out of my line and pulled into the other, even though it appeared to have the same number of cars.  He was a classic Lane Changer.

On a larger scale, there is a freeway interchange several miles from our house where the often busy Riverside (91) Freeway meets the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway.  At rush hour, the 91 is a mess from end to end but even when traffic is relatively light (by California standards), traffic is backed up a mile or two from the 91-55 interchange.  Why?  Lane changers, people who impulsively jump to a faster moving lane, without regard for where they’re going or looking to see what’s up ahead.  During lighter traffic, most of the cars on the 91 are headed south on the 55 and should be in the two left lanes, so naturally, those lanes are slower.  The Lane Changers move right, gradually clogging the lanes that continue on the 91, so they keep moving rightward.  Then, when the 55 exit looms, they find themselves in the far right lane and have to aggressively push through three lanes of traffic to get there.  Instant traffic jam.

I once attended traffic school after receiving two sppedinng tickets in the space of a year (I was framed, honest).  The police officer teaching the course swore that there were studies that showed lane changing doesn’t get you to your destination any faster.  I thnk what he meant was impulsive or continual lane changing in traffic.  My independent studies agree.  When I am stuck in traffic, I relax by turning up the radio to deafening levels, probably smooth jazz or 70s rock (provided Muri’s not in the car), and keeping track of Lane Changers.  There’s someting calming about slowly passing that chronic Lane Changer who’s been cutting people off for miles to get ahead of me.  I sometimes give them a self-satisfied glance as I pass but of course, they’re busy looking for their next move and don’t notice.  When I had Younger Eyes, I might have been less passive, tailgating the car in front of me or slowing down to thwart nearby Lane Changers.  An advantage of being seventy not forty is that I can look at less the harmful foibles of those around me as amusement (and possible post-fodder) instead of turning into the guy my friend Gary calls Captain Justice, avenger of small slights.  In some ways, I’d have been better off if I could have been seventy at a younger age.  Think about it, Younger Eyes, you might live longer.

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One Comment on “Lane Changers”

  1. territerri Says:

    I can’t really complain about my morning or afternoon rush hour drives. I’m pretty sure heavy traffic in MN is nothing like heavy traffic in CA. But we still have our share of inconsiderate drivers and the chronic lane changers were particularly on my nerves this week. Just reading this post makes me feel a little bit better, and maybe next week they won’t rile me up so much.

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