Life on the Road: Hey, Get Off My Freeway!


 I didn’t see the car until it was too late. He – I’m sure the kids who sat in the back called him Dad, or Pops, or something – was apparently attempting to get off the freeway without waiting his turn. To do so, he swooped down from the fast lane and jammed his little white Toyota a foot or so off my front bumper. Then he stopped.

I didn’t have time to think. Luckily, instincts were enough to avoid an accident. That was Tuesday. On Monday, I sat and sucked fumes for an hour, earthmovers to my left and minivans to my right. So this is progress, huh? Every freeway is torn up, and along with it just about every major thoroughfare that serves Orange County. Lanes end mysteriously, potholes are big enough to swallow whole Civics and concrete pylons stick out into lanes. As a result, the simple act of driving has morphed into a screen test for Mad Max in the Orange Dome. Like Queensberry at a bar fight, traditional rules of the road are history. No more right of way. Forget passing to the left. Merging? What’s merging? Thanks to the battle zone conditions, a new driver is emerging from the rubble:

Doin’ the Mario
There he goes, zipping around construction zone corners, zooming up to the traffic then bounding into the lane with the most room.

Mr. End Around
He’s not going to wait like all those other yahoos. Nah. He’ll jump to the front and wait on the island for some poor fool to let him in. .

Little Miss Make Your Own Lane
She’s too late to take cuts, and, like husband Mr. End Around, certainly will not wait like a good citizen. So she makes her own way, transforming traffic patterns and wreaking havoc along the way. Damn–traffic sure goes faster when all lanes turn right!

Hey Maaaan, what are YOU doing on my freeway?
We all know this guy. Can usually be found driving a beat up Granada decorated with bumper stickers. Liable to make sudden stops or lane changes for no apparent reason. Brake lights do not work.

SUVIE South County Susie
She’s blond, she’s beautiful and she’s the Queen O’ the Road in her big ol’ nasty Expedition. This is the perfect car for the girl who never really learned how to drive. Just put it in gear and go, babe. Whatever’s in front will soon move.

Minivan Maria
Maria didn’t marry as well as Susie, so now she’s stuck in an old-model minivan with three kids and a dog. It doesn’t have much acceleration and it looks like crap. But no matter. As long as you balance the thing like a sail boat, it’s a nimble little tank. Besides, most people see Maria in the Minivan and make room.

The OC Wedge
In Orange County, minivans and SUVs are like buffalo in the Old West. Get three or four in the same vicinity and they crowd together in a strange migration pattern. It makes for great visibility on the freeway, which is especially handy in spots (5, 55,405, 22, 91) infamous for sudden stops and starts.

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