Wednesday, May 26, 2010

King of the Road

You know, I seriously think that the people here on the streets of the DMV (for those not in the know--and I pity ye for it--DMV stands for D.C., Maryland and Virginia, basically the Washington D.C. metro area. Here’s a fun fact for you*: in Maryland we have the MVA: Maryland Vehicle Administration, whereas every other state has a Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. Isn’t that ironic?**)

Great, now where was I? Damn, my mind tends to wander off in my advanced age. Oh yeah! I sincerely believe that drivers in the D.C. metro area truly have a death wish. Either that, or somewhere along the line we all unconsciously decided to train to be demolition derby drivers. It’s unreal!

In 2009 (remember 2009? It was so long ago wasn’t it? That’s okay, in keeping with the grand tradition of such wonderful shows as I Love the 70s, I Love the 80s and I Love the 90s, VH1 has actually already created I Love the New Millennium. So you can watch a show that fondly recalls the great moments of that bygone era, like when Twilight came out, or how we had a black president. Good times indeed) Washington D.C. became the fourth worst congested traffic area in the country, (the top three? I could tell you, but since I don’t live in those places, I don’t really care). In fact, according to Forbes the amount of time it took drivers to reach their destination last year rose 22%. Which basically means that if you wanted to make it to church Sunday morning, you have to leave your house Saturday night.

I blame this increase in road congestion for everybody’s driving insanity. When you end up stuck in traffic so long that you contemplate wearing adult diapers just so you don’t get your upholstery wet, then you’re living in desperation. Rush hour around here is something like Thunderdome. “Two men enter the fast lane, one man leaves.” Or whatever. It’s a madhouse! Bedlam! Nobody even bothers trying to follow traffic laws. It’s every man (and small woman in an over-sized SUV who can’t even see over the dashboard, not that it would make a difference if she could because she’d rather focus on putting on make-up and talking on the goddamn phone!) for himself!

So what caused DC to move from the 6th most congested area to the 4th? There are a few factors at play. First is the fact that this wonderful recession we’re in has done almost nothing to affect government jobs. There are actually so many government jobs that people are moving to the area to snatch up all the work they can get. The second factor is that thanks to President Obama (Official motto: Whatever it is you guys elected me for, I’ll get around to doing eventually) trying to “jumpstart the economy,” road work is being done all over the place. That means that there are lane closures and detours and other nonsense going on throughout the area. The third factor is the large amount of immigrants moving into the area.

Look, I’m no more of a xenophobe than the next “Joe the Plumber” at a local clan meeting. I know that this country is a big old sloppy melting pot of different cultures, educating us as to how others live and enriching America to make us the best country on the planet, yada, yada, yada. But I have to say, it’s really annoying when people come from other countries and decide to bring their traffic laws (or lack thereof) with them. It’s like “hey guy, I know you’re used to driving a three-wheeled cart pulled by a donkey through the dusty streets of your home village, but you’re in America, driving a car now. You need to step your game up!”

And you wanna know my theory? I think that some people from other countries purposely drive anyway they want because when they get pulled over they can act all ignorant of driving laws. They’ll go from having PhDs to pretending like they don’t speak English.

Of course, it’s not just our friends from other lands who drive like maniacs. There’s plenty of homegrown stupidness as well. I used to believe that it wasn’t a problem to talk on the phone while driving, until I realized that being good at multi-tasking is a myth. Frankly, I’m surprised that we managed to master walking and chewing gum at the same. And don’t even get me started on the driving habits of old people!

In traffic, in the course of a week: I’ll be cut off at least two dozen times, have to break suddenly because the person in front of me decided to stop and smell the roses, or wants to make a turn without using a turn signal, at least 40 times, and have to speed up to get around people going 40 MPH in the fast lane, at least 8 times a day. And those are just the big ones. There are the people who try to speed through yellow lights and almost crash into me. The people who decide to pull into traffic at the wrong time and almost crash into me. And the people who just don’t give a damn about anything who try to crash into me. I’m lucky to be alive, I tell ya!

My solution? (and thanks for asking) Make cars more expensive so less people can own them and make the driving test harder. Because frankly, they just hand those driver licenses willy-nilly at the MVA. Do they even bother to test people anymore?

Until then, I think I’ll just stay home.

*And by fun I mean not fun at all. Sorry for tricking you!

** No. It isn’t.

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