Growing up as a kid, I was a pretty dedicated pedestrian. I enjoyed walking to places, even though where I grew up there was pretty much nowhere to go that wasn’t the side of a highway. And I tended to get to places, regardless of distance, on my own two damn feet. I had no real desire to have a car, and in fact wouldn’t get my license till well into adulthood. This was in a pretty typical corner of America where having a car was not only a right of passage, but a signal that one had entered into adulthood.
I don’t know to what extent I am happy to have not participated in that as a kid, but that is a point not worth getting into here. What has remained constant since then is that I dreamed of a life where I wouldn’t need a car. Let me make sure that is clear: wouldn’t need. Its not that I don’t want to have one. I enjoy a nice little joy ride every now and again. But what I don’t want is the obligation to have and to use the car by necessity on a daily basis.
That is the hell I currently live in. This mostly has to do with the fact that public transportation where I live is god damned awful, and the distances don’t make any sense. Just about everywhere I have ever lived a market of some kind was in walking distance. Here, the closest one is about a twenty minute walk.
I could complain for ages about the geography of where I live. But I think what really kills me is my commute. My commute is twenty minutes by car. But, by some fucked-up calculus I cannot comprehend, the commute by bus is an hour and a half. I guess it goes the eight miles or so by way of the fucking moon. Already feeling as if I have lost far, far too much time to this job I cannot stand, I have refused to take the bus.
To my ultimate determent. I am not sure if it is the early morning hours or simply the area I live in, but the people here seem only to have a rudimentary idea of the mechanics of fucking driving. Every goddamn morning it feels like my soul is undergoing the death by a thousand tiny cuts. It starts off with simple things, right out of my parking lot the asshole in front of me can’t seem to make the right turn. Mind you that there is no incoming traffic to prevent him from going, this person simply hasn’t gotten around to it yet.
I’ve since learned to avoid the high school that was just opening at the hour, but this puts me through a neighborhood where people are boycotting their sidewalks, obliging me to drive slow enough as to not plow the lady walking her fucking mop dog (you know the ones I am talking about).
Bu the real fun begins when I get to some of the more major roads, which all seems to have the same problem. For some god damn reason everyone on these roads decides to drive at least five miles below the speed limit. My best guess is that they do not want to go to work, but some of us need to be there at a certain hour. And besides, I want to get work over with already.
But there is a moment when the other drives do drive quickly, and that is when I need to make a left turn. There are two occasions when I need to do this, and in both of these locations the drivers coordinate with each to ensure that the turn is as difficult for me as possible. They drive in such a fashion as to ensure that whatever gap there is in oncoming traffic is filled before I can possibly manage to make my turn. The oncoming traffic against that left turn is almost always consistent. Just to piss me off.
And speaking of left turns, there is something about attempting to make left turns that cures the drivers in front of me of their insomnia. For whenever the miraculous break in traffic manifests itself, the driver in front of me ceases paying attention, ignoring gaps within the oncoming traffic through which the U.S.S Alfred G Cunningham could easily pass. But these drivers, they aren’t going to risk that.
Unless I am the oncoming traffic. Then they will risk it. Because it doesn’t matter if I am gunning it over a hill and can’t see that they are making a turn. They are going to make a shot of it.
All of this is turning me into an asshole. I don’t like my job, so I am not terribly happy wasting my time trying to get there. So anything that I predict will delay me, even by a moment, I will try to cut off. I find myself constantly gunning against school busses, public busses, the elderly and other cars for some perceived supremacy. I try to do this within the limit of the law, but I miss more often than not.
And finally, a note on the other drivers. THe DC metro area is rather diverse, and so most of the other drivers are foreigners. I don’t want to be accused of a bigotry that isn’t actually my own, and I am in fact half foreigner, but the drivers here are shit and the reason is because they are foreigners (is that a contentious statement? DIfferent countries have different rules for driving, and America makes it to easy for people to come here, get licenses, and drive without assurance that these people actually follow the rules). And so I find myself having to constantly dodge people coming out of nowhere, not respecting lanes, ignoring stop signs, and generally driving like asshole.
It’s shortening my life span.