Traffic is relative

Published 6:09 pm Monday, August 12, 2019

LaGrange resident 

Have you ever noticed how differently people approach lane merges when they are driving? You know, like on Vernon Road, going into town, right past the hospital? Or the entrance ramp to I-85? 

If you’ve ever been merging with someone rated strongly on the “Mr. Hyde” half of the scale, then your life is about to become more interesting than a NASCAR race leader with a dirty visor on the final lap at Daytona during a lightning storm. 

It fascinates me that otherwise rational people who have been following sedately at a safe distance back will suddenly accelerate and swerve past me on the inside shoulder when a lane reduction is coming up. I slow down, let them in, and then wait in line behind that same person at each and every stoplight from the hospital to the mall. 

The other interesting Hyde behavior is when another driver matches my speed in the other lane, bumper to bumper, just to see who slows down first as the lane narrows — the sort of brinkmanship normally associated with the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Of course, there are always Dr. Jekyll types behind the wheel, as well. I encounter them most often when I am trying to accelerate onto the interstate. Pulling out from a dead stop in front of an endless line of 40,000 pound semis going 70 miles per hour is “exciting” in the exact same way that the Atlanta Braves bullpen is currently “exciting”.

However, everything is relative. I will enthusiastically merge lanes with every citizen of Troup County, if it will keep me off all roads in the greater Atlanta metro area during daylight hours. Six lanes of traffic, all going three miles per hour. People changing lanes because they are certain the next lane over is going three and a quarter miles per hour. People shoving their bumpers into an opening between two cars that a house cat wouldn’t try to squeeze through, correctly certain I would rather stop and let them in than deal with an accident claim form. People honking their horns, apparently in the hope that doing so will help clear up 10 miles of backed up traffic. 

Nope, I’ll take LaGrange traffic every single day, no matter how many Jekyll and Hyde drivers I might encounter along the way.  

And in all honesty, for every Mr. Hyde driver I’ve encountered, I’ve met two Mother Theresa drivers, who will pause to let me make a left turn out of a parking lot on Vernon Street, or wave me ahead when we both arrive at a four way stop at the same time. 

All in all, I’ve got it pretty good in LaGrange.