Our traffic makes us crazy — and distracted

This town and this traffic have made us crazy.

I sat in my car yesterday on GA 400 in north Sandy Springs, just hoping that I could get north of exit 11 before the slowdown. No such luck. It was toast at exit 10.

We all know the normal spots where traffic backs up so we when we hit it, we’re not surprised. When it piled up some five miles before that spot, I was totally unprepared. I fell back on what has become an Atlanta tradition: talking to myself in the car. Venting with the windows up so nobody can hear you.

Yesterday I cussed out a good 10 or 12 people and they never even knew it! The %$#*& and the @#&^% all fit in the right places when no one can hear you.

I was quietly cussing out an elderly man who had the nerve to not move up in traffic so we could advance 12 feet before again stopping! I know — you’re outraged as I was. Apparently, my windows aren’t tinted as dark as they need to be because he looked over and was cussing me out, too. I could read his lips and I know what he said had nothing to do with “Have a nice day, sonny!”

From what I could tell, that man’s language could make a sailor blush. I accepted my defeat and tipped my hat. He flipped me off. Touché. We will meet again.

Sometimes traffic is so bad there’s nothing left to say. All you can do is find that distraction, hopefully not too much like a long and involved phone call while you disregard every known traffic law as you’re burning up your minutes calling “College Nymphos Who Want to Talk To YOU Direct!”

Even worse: texting or just reading the long novel you want to finish. Ever notice how a book fits just right on your steering wheel? Just remember how bad it feels to hear that crunch of the car ahead you just as you get the knockout punch from your airbag.

Let the book sit until you get where you’re going.

You can talk to yourself, which has to be boring after a while — unless you’re schizophrenic. In that case, if the two of you are good conversationalists, it’ll be more like car-pooling with a buddy.

Music is the answer

The only distraction that makes sense is cranking up the music.

For the last month or so, I’ve been listening to country stations. In the past, I haven’t spent much time with country music, preferring rock ‘n’ roll because my eardrums aren’t quite destroyed yet. For some reason, though, I’ve enjoyed listening to the country sound this time around.

I think it’s because the songs don’t get too deep. They hit topics that you and I and a bunch of cowboys can relate to.

Here’s an example: I learned that water makes corn. And corn makes whiskey. And whiskey makes this singer’s girlfriend frisky. Okay! Good enough for me — or so it seemed. Turns out it also makes them drunk and throw up.

Here’s another one. A guy sings a song about how this girl likes his big green tractor. I thought to myself, “How pompous this guy is!” — until I found out it wasn’t a metaphor. He was actually talking about his big green tractor. She loved it and he would take her riding on it.

Well, I tried it, but apparently there’s a big difference between a big green tractor and a John Deer L-108 riding mower.

Not only did she not like it, but she threw up all over the grass-catcher. Must have been the whiskey and corn.

But one thing I find with country music is that all of us can relate to at least one song on the top 10 list. Doesn’t matter if it’s the “cheatin’-on-me” song, the one about your girl sitting next to you in the pickup truck or the bar songs.

Bar songs are in a class by themselves. They talk about how much they love the bar or what happens in the bar. Two girls — twin sisters, in fact — find the only cowboy in the bar and offer him one heck of a rodeo ride and he responds by telling them he’s not as good as he once was, but he’s good once as he ever was. Stuff I can relate to! (You believe me, don’t you?)

The scenarios go on and on, but they’re not too deadly serious that I have to try and figure out the hidden meaning. I just let it ride until I finally make it home and climb on that John Deere riding mower— in gym shorts, tube socks and my cowboy boots.

Look out, ladies!

9 comments Add your comment


April 23rd, 2010
7:47 pm

There’s a mental picture we could all do without! Thanks a Lot!


April 23rd, 2010
9:57 pm

Oh yes, the joys of a good traffic jam. There is a reason that for most of the last 25 years I have:
1) Worked the graveyard shift.

2) Paid a stiff premium on rent to live accross the street from a Marta station.

3) Driven a gas pig as long as it was built like a Sherman tank.

and/or 4) Been willing to live in a bad neighborhood if it was two miles from work.


April 24th, 2010
12:07 am

Random question – but I thought this might be an okay place to ask. If you’re sitting on the interstate in a traffic jam, moving slowly or moving in fits, and you hear the sirens of emergency vehicles behind you, driving up the median. What do you do? Do you stop where you are? Do you try and foce your way into antoher lane? Do you continue driving?


April 24th, 2010
12:07 am

The question is, what should a person do in that situation?

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April 24th, 2010
1:11 am

Greg, April 24th, 2010 12:07 am-

I am not an officer of the law, but I am a professional shuttle/delivery driver with a PPC (Public Passenger Chauffeur’s License) who has been driving for 12 years and I’ve been in the situation that you describe more times than I can count. In the situation you describe, if I am stuck in traffic and an emergency vehicle is approaching behind me either on the shoulder or in the median as you describe, I just stay where I am at and let the emergency vehicle pass by my position in traffic on the shoulder or median. I stay where I am at because if traffic is that heavy, I’m not going anywhere anyway and if I’m sitting still, it gives or whomever is in a direct location that has to the chance to yield to create as much space as possible to let an emergency vehicle through traffic to get to the site of the ongoing emergency in progress(collision, carfire, etc).

In that situation, I just basically try to slow down or stop, if needed, so that I won’t be in the way or direct path of an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency. That’s why they post the signs that threaten heavy fines telling motorists to stay off the shoulders and medians of the freeway unless it is an emergency so that the shoulder, which is designed to be an emergency lane, can be utilized as much as possible in emergency situations, especially if traffic is stopped.

The situations on the freeway where you would try to force your way into another lane is if an emergency situation (collision, fire, etc) is blocking your lane and you have no choice but to move to another lane in very heavy and or slow traffic to go around it. You would continue driving, but continue with caution, of course, in cases where traffic is moving and try to move over to the right lanes of traffic to leave the left one or two lanes clear for the emergency vehicle pass if your on a freeway that has two to four lanes headed in your direction. On the sections of freeway that have five to eight lanes headed in your direction, like the superwide sections of I-75/85, etc, the only thing you could do is to keep driving with caution and awareness of where the emergency vehicle is behind you in relation to where you are so that you can keep traffic moving.

In many cases, if traffic is moving, it’s not a good idea to try and come to a complete stop on the freeway, but some emergency situations may require you to slow to a halt. It all really depends on the exact situation that is occuring. The best that you can do to respond is just to be aware of what is going on. Don’t get distracted and check your mirrors the road ahead, behind and around you at all times, especially on those 12-20 lane freeway monsters that we have in and around the Atlanta area.

I am by no means an expert, I just have a wealth of professional driving experience in urban and freeway environments and I hope that what I had to offer was of some use in helping to answer your question. If possible though, I would like to hear what Officer Rose has to say about what exactly to do in the situation you described and what the law says to do exactly.

almost redneck

April 24th, 2010
7:57 am

I just listen to my “Blue Collar Comedy” station on Sirius/XM and laugh. I just know some people think there’s a crazy person sitting in that Jeep next to them.

Lt. Steve

April 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

Most of the time the cops will use the Emergency lane but sometimes the median is the quickest route. Personally, if you’re stopped, I don’t have to anticipate your zig or zag. Also, the sirens and lights tend to freak out (understandably) the driver in front of the cop car but the ofifcer needs to get where he or she is going without causing or getting into a wreck. They have more time than the urgency of that siren tells you so just don’t panic and dive left or right. Just do the best you can and if you have a place to pull over then fine. If not, just stop so they can figure out which way to go around. I had to come in on a (well I forgot what the heck the call was but it was something I had to get there asap)and had to use 400 south from exit 12. I stayed in the right lane but a couple of times I had to get into the lanes. Everyone just slowed and stopped until I got around and it worked out. The moral of the story is just don’t panic and jerk the steering wheel one way or the other. The cop will figure out a path.

Jerry the Geek

April 26th, 2010
1:59 am

WAY too much information here. As the Suave Gremlin said in “Gremlins II”:

“Civilized? No, definitely not. But FUNNY!

Linked to the blog, Brother. Think: 3g, and laptop. (More expensive than a book when you’re rear-ended, though.)


April 27th, 2010
2:52 pm

I’m so glad as an officer of the law you took the high road by cussing out elderly people under stress….
Thank you for blogging about your daily abusiveness of power.