Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Traffic Etiquette

One of the current challenges I face on a regular basis is dealing with traffic on my commute home from work. A certain point is particularly troublesome - where the 147 meets I-40. This point is troubling because the exit off the 147 to I-40 merges two lanes down to one. On days when the I-40 is moving slow, there can be a back-up on the 147.

When this happens, I immediately move into the left lane (knowing the right lane ends) because it makes sense to me to get out of the lane that is ending. If everyone merged into the proper lane as soon as they were able, it seems to me that traffic would move faster.

However, you always have "those people" who fly ahead in the open lane and then merge at the last possible instance, causing a momentary stop to the procession. I have always loathed "those people" and I can honestly say that I have never done this in my life. Additionally, whenever this topic comes up in conversation, everyone shares these feelings with me. I have never met someone who admitted to being "that person" who merges at the last possible moment. This means that I am either acquainted with people who are just like me or I am acquainted with a bunch of liars.

Whenever I find myself in this situation, I have one of two reactions. 1) I sit in the slow moving lane and think bad thoughts about the cars whizzing by, especially if that car happens to be a BMW or a Lexus. 2) If I am feeling especially bold, I will move to block the open lane and drive with traffic in the slow lane, laughing like a little school girl as the cars behind me honk with rage.

Well, yesterday I was stuck in this scenario and I was using reaction #1. But then, the thought came to me: Why is it so wrong to drive in the open lane? I do not think that this is against the law. Applying the moral philosophy of Kant's "Categorical Imperative", the result would simply be the other lane would be log-jammed. If half of the people started using the other lane and then merged at the last second, perhaps traffic would move faster. Maybe the people in the fast lane are not a bunch of selfish low life's, but a small minority of people who actually use their brain and resist being herded like cattle.

As I sat there, I began to question whether or not I have been a sucker all of these years. I am sure that is what the people in the other lane are thinking about all of us losers in the backed-up lane. It is a strange feeling to have a strong belief that you have blindly held as long as you can remember start to be questioned and maybe even crumble before your very eyes.

To bring this pointless story to a conclusion, I did end up just staying in the slow lane. But, I have been questioning whether or not I will be the type of person who lives in the fast lane. Perhaps you have some thoughts that can help me decide on the matter.

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