If you follow me on either of my Twitter accounts, you are often subjected to my rants about my daily commute into Midtown Atlanta. I’ve been making this horrid commute for the past eight years. You’d think I would have become accustomed to it and perhaps grown a bit more patient with my fellow travelers.
It still sucks just as much as it did when we first moved here in 2006. Every day, every mile after soul-crushing mile. But I continue to drive 23 miles into Atlanta 5 days a week because I’m about that paper.
I can bear with most traffic situations. If traffic is just heavy, or there is a wreck, I suffer through it because what else can you do? There are certain traffic situations, however, that will send me right into a rage blackout in 0.2 seconds. Let’s go over them in the order in which they typically occur on my daily commute, shall we?
WAIT YOUR TURN
This situation happens where I turn onto the ramp to I-85 every morning. As you can see from this amazingly accurate and detailed illustration, the people turning left onto the access ramp have the green arrow. What you can’t see is that at the end of that ramp, there is a light to control the flow of traffic and avoid a merging fustercluck of epic proportions. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Left lane gets a light, right lane gets a light. Should work fairly well, right? The flow of cars should be fairly steady, and there should be enough time to clear the intersection when the light turns yellow.
The problem occurs when the people coming from the opposite direction attempt to merge with the cars that have the left arrow. Even though they have a yield sign, and even though they will get their own green light in a matter of moments, most of them will force their way into the lane of left turners who are trying to clear the intersection so as not to impede traffic going the opposite direction. The offending driver is marked by JERK above, and the overly passive driver who lets them in is marked by DUMMY. The left turners who thought they had time to clear the intersection but now find themselves stranded in the middle of the road with nowhere to go are marked by RAGE. The driver who becomes aware that they are now going to miss the light because of JERK is marked by ANNOYED.
An easy solution to this problem would be for every JERK to wait his freaking turn. The left turn arrow lasts for maybe one minute. You will get a green light all to yourself in mere moments. You’ll also be able to turn right onto the ramp when the drivers getting OFF the interstate get their left turn arrow. So ask yourself, is the 30 seconds you may save worth all of the subliminal death wishes you will receive as a result of forcing yourself into traffic? I THINK NOT.
LAST SECOND MERGERS
Everyone who has had a driver’s license for any length of time has experienced this scenario. You’re riding along the interstate, slowly if it’s the morning commute on 85, and suddenly this person who has had over a quarter mile of lane to himself to merge into traffic decides that he has to get over and he has to get over NOW. Because somehow the exit snuck up on him, even though he likely makes this drive every single day. The lane in question is not a tapered merging lane, which, in my opinion, functions best when cars merge in a zipper fashion (i.e., the cars in the left lane leave enough space between them for the cars in the right lane to merge seamlessly). This lane spans the distance between exits, and there’s no leeway at the end unless you use the emergency lane (which is frowned upon by law enforcement). The offending driver is, of course, denoted by A-HOLE above. The added bonus to being this type of A-HOLE is that you also sometimes block the people behind you who are trying to exit the interstate. Two-fer!
Yes, sometimes A-HOLE has had to drive all the way to the end because drivers already on the interstate have not left enough room for him to enter the interstate and he finds himself in a desperate situation at the end of the lane. Sometimes. Most of the time, however, I watch A-HOLE speed down the lane, passing all of the cars already on I-85 with ample room to insert himself into traffic, and then at the last second he flicks on his blinker and expects the entire world to stop for him. Even worse, there is the A-HOLE who is already on I-85 that jumps into the on-ramp lane because it is free of cars, rides the lane to the end, and then wants to jump back onto the interstate. Who the heck do you think you are?! Are you so special, so important, that you are too good to wait in traffic with the rest of the unwashed masses? NO. You’re just an entitled A-HOLE. Subliminal death wishes to you as well.
LAST SECOND EXITERS
The flip side of the last second merger is the last second exiter. The situation where this pisses me off the most doesn’t even happen on the interstate. There is a road called the Buford Spring Connector that offers a bypass of sorts to drivers who are heading to the Buckhead area. I use the Buford Spring Connector about 90% of the time because it takes me to Midtown without having to deal with the Downtown Connector. Instead of going right to Buckhead, I go left to Midtown. Anyway, there is a one-lane ramp off of 85 that joins with another lane at the start of the Buford Spring Connector. The people coming from 85 have their own lane, and the people coming from 400/Buckhead have their own lane.
Near the end of the Buford Spring Connector is an exit to get back onto I-85, so that people who live in the area can get onto the interstate without having to backtrack. That’s where the problem occurs. In theory, the lefthand lane of the Buford Spring Connector SHOULD NOT STOP unless there is traffic backed up from Buckhead and Midtown. This never happens. What causes both lanes to slow to a crawl are drivers who wait until the last possible second to exit the Buford Spring Connector to get on 85 (A-HOLE in the illustration above). They will ride in the left lane until the right lane starts to split off to 85, and then they will flick on their turn signal and STOP THE ENTIRE WORLD so that they can jump in line to get onto 85. This, of course, fills the people behind them with RAGE.
Yes, A-HOLE, I know you’re much too important to wait in line. Except YOU’RE NOT. You sit your butt in your car in the right lane with everybody else and stop jacking up my flow in the left lane. You aren’t special, and you do not have the divine right to cut everyone in line. Your type of A-HOLE deserves any and all ill will directed at you.
INTENTIONAL INTERSECTION BLOCKERS
Probably the a-holiest A-HOLE on the planet is the one who intentionally blocks the intersection. This usually happens to me when there is an event happening in lower Midtown or Downtown, and everyone decides that it would be the BEST idea to try to bypass the Downtown Connector by getting off 85 and going down Peachtree Street! During evening rush hour! When people are leaving their offices and trying to get home! Such a great idea, and it ALWAYS works out well for people who try it.
False statement. Not only do you usually sit in traffic longer than if you had just stuck with 85, you end up pissing off everyone who uses Peachtree Street on a daily basis because you don’t follow the basic rules of etiquette. Rules like not blocking the intersection when you see that the cars in front of you are going NOWHERE. Why would you do that? Why would you intentionally thwart good, honest, hardworking people such as myself in their attempts to get home to their children or pick them up from school? Have you no heart? No soul? No, you don’t. You’re just some self-serving, entitled A-HOLE who gets off on screwing left turners in traffic.
Newsflash: we don’t get a left turn arrow at 17th Street (side note: Mayor Reed, can you please get on that?). We are completely at the mercy of oncoming traffic. Next time you find yourself in a heavy traffic situation, how about earning some karma points and leaving the intersection clear so that people can turn left? And if you choose not to do that, may the fleas of a thousand camels feast on your private parts.
Whew. I feel better now. Sometimes it helps just to get it out. I have come to terms with the fact that this is just how my life will be. I’ve been dealing with it for 8 years, and I’ll deal with it as long as I work in Atlanta. But on the plus side, at least it gives me something to complain about.