Monday, May 21, 2007

Can't Beat 'Em? Blog 'Em!

Springfieldians are some of the nicest, friendliest people you'll ever want to meet. Until they get behind the wheel of an automobile.

Case in point: last week, while driving home from work, I came up behind a lady going fifty while driving in the left lane. She had a small child in the front seat and one in the back as well. Since the speed limit in this particular stretch of highway was sixty and this driver made no effort to move into the right lane, I did. I signaled, checked my side view, and eased my truck to the right.

As I sped up to pass, she inexplicably increased her speed. I tried going a little faster, but she kept pace. Since we were quickly approaching a slow moving vehicle in my lane, I decided to slow down, move back to the left lane and pass that vehicle.I signaled, and scooted over.

Now behind this lady who felt the sudden urge to accelerate past the posted speed limit, I was both shocked and miffed when she pulled up even to the slow moving right lane vehicle and decelerated to match its speed. The only apparent purpose in this maneuver was to irritate me and any drivers behind me.

There is a little bypass I like to take around Republic when the traffic gets too thick to make the drive enjoyable. It's not really a time saver as much as it is a sanity saver. I decided this was a good time to take that road.

As I entered the turn lane, I looked up to see the lady flip a cigarette out the window and give me a long-lasted, one-fingered salute in the process. I couldn't believe it. My anger turned to hurt. I didn't do anything wrong, but I got flipped off anyway. And that while she had two small children aboard. A fine example for those tykes.

The problem is, this is not any isolated incident in Springfield. I see it happen to others all the time and I have had it happen to me before. Usually, it results when someone else is doing some incredibly stupid driving and they lash out at you when you simply try to avoid them.

Springfield is noted for an unusually high incidence of road rage. I wonder why? These are people who'll strike up a conversation with a stranger in the mall and act as if they've been friends for years. Do motorized chunks of steel and vinyl have some kind of mystical powers over our residents?

I think it's a power thing. Traffic in Springfield is awful and traffic lights hinder the process more than help it. There is a stretch of road near I-44 and in front of a Wal-Mart superstore that has - count 'em - three stop lights in a span of about one city block. And none of them are coordinated with one another. You should try getting through there on a Friday night about 5:00 pm.

I digress. There is little any of us can do about the traffic or the lights for which our burg is noted. So we tend to take out our frustrations on one another. When someone has control over little else, they exercise control on whatever they can. Like somebody who tries to pass them on the highway. It's a reaction to a perceived threat to one's dignity, I presume.

So lady in the beat up, paint-peeling Chevy Cavalier headed to Republic at 5:15pm last Thursday night, I forgive you. I understand your need to have control over some small part of your life. I just wish you hadn't dragged your kids into all this.