Mad Max: Beyond the Capitol Dome

I live in Northern Virginia, and while it has its charms, including a diverse food culture, vibrant arts scene, and better looking people on average than anywhere else I’ve lived (Indianapolis, I’m shaking my head shamefully in your direction), there is one thing I could quite happily live without: the traffic. I know, it’s passé to complain about traffic in a major metropolitan area, but this isn’t like New York traffic, or LA traffic, or Chicago traffic, or any of those (I’ve driven them all, and yes they all suck, so please don’t write me and tell me how bad you have it.)

The problem with NoVA (as we call it) traffic is that it’s not city traffic, but it’s also not suburban traffic. It’s an awful mix of the two as people push the damn exurbs farther and farther out, and the government, tech sector, and other high-paying jobs draw more and more people from different parts of the country, so nobody drives the same way as anybody else. The result is akin to depriving an entire psych ward of their medication for an entire week: it’s never a good idea and it sometimes results in fatalities. There are a few common maneuvers that are becoming such a strong trend among the driving illiterati that I feel the need to make a special point of them.

I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I Won’t Stop Until I Get There

I’ve noticed this one primarily among drivers in cars with out of state plates. They clearly have no clue where they are or where they are going, but rather than doing something sensible like pull over and look at a map, check the GPS or (dear God!) ask directions, they insist on rolling merrily along. Personally I couldn’t care, except that they’re also clearly afraid that they will miss their exit/turn/house/Burning Man Festival they are looking for if they go more than half the speed limit. The result is that they slow down everyone behind them, create mass frustration, and potentially riskier behavior in other drivers as they try to get around the asshole who can’t just pull over. Well done, sir.

This Is My Lane And I’ll Go Any Speed I Want

Related to the last one is the guy who seems to think it’s his job to enforce the speed limit by getting in the fast lane and going five miles an hour below the speed limit. Yeah, cause that’s not gonna cause an accident. Either this guy really does think he’s doing some sort of good (in which case he’s a self-righteous asshat) or he’s just an oblivious jerk who never learned how to drive (you get in the farthest right lane that you can while maintaining speed.) The flipside of this is the guy who drives incredibly fast until he’s right behind the guy ahead of him and then slams on the brakes. Between the two I actually fear this one more, but let’s be honest, either the cops or Darwin will take care of this guy for me.

I’ll Be Turning Any Day Now

I’m not bagging on the people who leave on their turn signal for six miles here (you know who you are), because that’s an international and quite possibly an interstellar phenomenon. I’m specifically referring to the people who commit one of two offences against common sense. The first is sitting at a turn for an inordinate amount of time without turning. I understand not everyone is as quick off the stick as I am, but when there’s not another car in sight, the light’s been green since you got there, and you still aren’t turning, what the hell is wrong with you? And no, I’m not making this one up, it happens to me on a daily basis. The second is even worse: the phantom turn lane. This is the guy who starts slowing down to make his turn roughly a half mile before he gets to the turn lane. If the turn lane were full of cars I could get behind that, but usually the douchebags who do this can clearly see the turn lane is empty, they’re just coasting to save that extra 1/1,000,000,000,000 gallon of gas and waste an extra five minutes of my day.

There’s some other things people do that torque me off, but I don’t see any point in calling them out for it since I do them too. I suppose it could be worse; at least I don’t ride on the Metro.


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