Merging and other stresses

I’ve been trying really hard not to complain as much on here. I mean, in the long run, I’ve got things pretty great.

But can I just whine about something for a teeny, tiny minute?

Ok, so we all know that my commute is much better than it used to be. The whole shebang has been cut down from almost two hours each way to more like 45 minutes each way. It’s not like I’m teleporting (YET), but it’s definitely a time saver. Plus, I’m not paying exorbitant fees to be crammed into a tin can with Everything That Is Wrong With The World. Sure, I have to pay more attention and the chances that I’ll get in a car accident have increased exponentially, but all in all, it’s a more comfortable ride.

It is not, however, perfect.

This morning I actually narrowed down the one thing that makes me the most anxious about driving: merging.

Oh lawdy, do I hate merging. Especially here, where drivers are just generally insane.

When I first started driving, I was actually extremely paranoid about it, and I always made sure that I was just in the lane I needed to be in at all times. If I knew I would be turning left, you can bet I was in the left lane from start to finish, regardless if the right lane was moving quicker or not.

As I got more comfortable with driving, I also got a little more comfortable with changing lanes, though it is still my natural inclination to just get in the lane I need to be in no matter how far I have left to go on the road I’m currently on.

Of course, there is a big difference between highways in Iowa and highways here. I’m probably going to get crap for this, but I’m just going to say it: People in Long Island are terrible drivers.

There, I said it.

I’m dead serious. In Iowa, everyone is so polite. They signal. They let you into their lane. They obey traffic laws.

Here? Not so much.

Everyone thinks their own agenda is so much more important than yours. They speed. They swerve into your lane unexpectedly. They pretend they don’t see you signaling because GODFORBID they be delayed for the three seconds it would take to let you merge. In general, they suck.

So anyway, what all of that leads me to is the most stressful part of my commute, which is where I have to merge onto an off-ramp to get onto a different highway. It is always ridiculously congested, and it requires you to be that guy if you want to get in. Not sure what I mean by that guy? I’m just going to let this illustration explain:

Ok, so we all agree that we HATEHATEHATE when someone does that, right? Like, actually want-to-shake-them-violently hate them, right?

Well, here’s my dilemma. You HAVE to be that guy to get into this lane. I always try to lessen the blow by not waiting until I’m all the way at the front of the line to cut in, but you still have this moment where you have to just pick the car you are basically going to cut in front of, and even though I know it’s all in my head, I always feel so awkward doing it. (And thus ends the longest, guiltiest sentence ever.)

I mean, one minute I’m floating out there in my lane, the next minute I’m all, “I choose you!” and darting in front of them, hoping they’re not one of those jerks who keeps facing forward and being all like, “Nope, just me out here in traffic! I certainly don’t see anyone to my left trying to get in my lane! Just accelerating for no reason! Yup, yup, YUP!” (Wait, no, THAT was the longest sentence ever.)

I know you see me. You know I know you see me. I know you know that if you were in my position, you would hate me for pretending not to see you. Ergo, I don’t like you.

Anyway, after I finally get on the off-ramp, the commute is basically over. I take a few deep breaths, congratulate myself on remaining somewhat calm, and proceed to work.


Except when someone decides to actually be that guy in the above illustration and dart in front of me right before the off-ramp ends. Way to be that guy even more than I was that guy.

I try not to actually get irritated about it. I try to remember when I was the person who just needed to get onto the off-ramp, and how stressful that was. But mostly I just succeed in lowering my irritation from full-blown road rage to silently stewing and shooting withering stares at the rude driver.

Add onto all that my new-found paranoia about getting rear-ended again, and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure rises a few notches every time I approach that exit.

Le sigh.

So anyway, that’s all I wanted to complain about today.

In happier news, Benny should come home today! Plus, we’re FINALLY getting the credenza/china cabinet on Friday. So this weekend will be a put-together-the-dining-room weekend. Plus-PLUS we’re going to a hockey game and have plans on Sunday. All good things.

There. Being positive makes up for the whining, right?

5 thoughts on “Merging and other stresses

  1. I think it’s a midwest thing to be a super polite driver– I came from WI, where everyone lets you know when they’ll be doing anything, and a row of cars in a turn only lane will sit there for 10 minutes with their blinkers on… Here in Texas, NOBODY uses their signals, and since they all have big cars, they’re not afraid to cut you off. Giant trucks weave through traffic as if they’re Vespas. Long story short, I’m much more tense than I used to be while driving.
    Good luck to you with that merge issue… I HATE being that guy– seems like poor city planning to force a merge like that.

  2. Well not ALL of the Midwest. When I moved to Chicago it took me awhile to develop that killer instinct you need to have in order to drive in the city. Now whenever I go back to J-Town I am still locked into driving “beast mode” and I will drive around all ready to be a jerk thinking to myself “THERE ARE NO OTHER CARS ON THIS ROAD!”

  3. The only thing missing in this article is a short blurb about driver’s who refuse to get out of the left lane which forces you to pass them on the right. I’m normally fairly mild-tempered, but anytime this happens to me I want to ram them off the road.

    Also, sometimes it’s fun trying to pick the car you’re going to cut in front of. It always reminds me of a scene in The Waterboy (with Adam Sandler) where the kicker is choosing who the onside kick is going to at the end of the game. See video from 6:03 to 6:16…

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