Starting The Day Off With A Troubling Jam

Today I’m holding my breath about getting to work, because yesterday’s morning drive caused me to realize, once again, that many of my fellow commuters are dangerous lunatics.

Sometime early yesterday a tanker truck overturned near the intersection of Route 161 and I-270, two of the major roads in Columbus.  Both highways were closed in both directions for the entire morning rush hour.  As a result, thousands of cars that normally use those arteries had to find alternative routes, and the entire east side of Columbus quickly became a paralyzed mass of red-faced, frustrated drivers.  Every road heading in the direction of downtown was filled with cars inching along, bumper to bumper, going nowhere.

It’s amazing how quickly the veneer of civilization is ripped away when this kind of thing happens.  After a few minutes of delay and the horrifying sight of long lines of stationary cars, drivers get the sinking feeling that this is going to be bad — and then the inner savage appears.  Selfish drivers blithely block intersections as traffic lights change, infuriating everyone trying to get through the crossing.  Drivers recklessly weave in and out, change lanes to move forward a single car length, and abruptly make illegal U-turns.  Some people will drive on the berm, and other self-nominated traffic code enforcers try to block them from doing so.

You look at the well-dressed people in the stopped cars around you, gesturing angrily or beating their hands against the steering wheel, and you wonder whether they shouldn’t be wearing face paint and bearskins.

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