At some point, every officer has to work traffic.
Years ago they would shut the lights down at rush hour and the traffic cops would work the intersections. If it goes as planned, it’s not too difficult. You take the north and southbound lanes, plus the turn lane. Move the turn-lane traffic for 15 or 20 cars, and then the north and south until you make a dent or make everyone mad in the east and westbound lanes. Then, repeat on the east and westbound.
If the traffic is heavy, slide a few more cars in the turn lane at the end of the rotation.
The X-factor inevitably comes into play. Most of the time, it’s (I’m sorry but this is a fact) an older woman who stops and wants to know if she is headed in the right direction — then begins a long dissertation on where she’s going, why and her concern that the green-bean casserole might spill, which has nothing to do with the direction she’s going!
Next it’s the delivery driver who’s in the turn lane but wants to go straight so he points in the direction of where he wants to go while he backs up 25 cars whose drivers had the sense to know where to turn.
So, any cop who has any time on the pavement working traffic knows it ain’t going to happen like it should.
Working traffic is like herding cattle, with the exception that cattle are smarter. Cattle, even when they’re lost, will at least keep going. They don’t stop and squint with that confused face and then drop the car at a dead stop with no apparent concern for the army of cars slamming on the brakes behind them. Everyone gets lost but, first, Get out of the way!
The lunchtime and business let-out traffic cops keep everyone nice and irritated while they let out folks from the fast-food joints and business offices. I get a lot of mail on that and I do expect more! One reason is people have not evolved into being able to make a left turn in traffic. They sometimes wait until both lanes clear. Both lanes never clear! You gotta get out and get in that R-lane and hope for the best.
Better yet, plan your lunch around right turns. It’s not that hard. Give those lunchtime restaurants on the right some business. Drive down the street and then turn around and come back or, better yet, wait for the cop to let you out while you look at all the happy faces in their cars.
We work a ton of wrecks involving folks who can’t make the left turn. They drive into the lane and then wait to merge, all the while putting their fate in the hands of the person whom they have just angered by stopping in their lane! It’s not sensible.
Stop talking and pay attention to the road
Let me say something right here: Get off the phone!! It’s hard enough to drive in traffic without diverting your attention span (some of us don’t have much to spare) to some mindless conversation that had to be initiated while you’re waiting for a left turn or, God forbid, approaching a four-way stop.
I’ve said this before. Sit and watch a four-way stop sign and you’ll be amazed some folks can even find their way home.
To make things fair, women can handle the irritation of traffic better than men. Men in traffic have this inherited gene that brings out the alpha-male thing:
“That is my space and I’m not giving it up to you causing me an extra three seconds of my day and although I’m only going 25 feet to catch up with the car in front of me in traffic, well, you can have my space when you pry my cold dead hands off the steering wheel!”
Road rage was made for men. We bow up, flip the other driver off and do that one-arm beating on the chest thing that football players do. Sometimes, the more pitiful of the species will pull the gun out and show the other driver just how insecure he is.
(About a month ago, one did it but, unfortunately for him, the show-ee was a U.S. marshal who took it seriously enough to call the cops. The driver ended up in jail where he shared a cell with a bunch of guys beating on their chest with one hand like football players do. He didn’t do well on an even playing field.)
Get off the phone!! (It bears repeating.)
Look, Atlanta is made up of a lot of people who bought homes all the way north to Sandy Springs, Gainesville, fashionably cute Roswell, Dahlonega and Chattanooga thinking the “I” word, for “infrastructure,” was going to keep pace.
“It’s close to the interstate,” the agent said.
Turns out everyone had to go to work at the same time.
Atlanta traffic is horrible. It’s the product of greedy developers and twit-minded politicians who had to know this is a town where people get in their cars and ride.
Few folks, not enough to make a dent, take the train or the bus. But apparently that wasn’t a big deal then.
Remember the great “Outer Loop” that was going to ease traffic in Atlanta? Now it’s now and not then. So we’re stuck with it and this traffic isn’t going anywhere soon, figuratively and literally. Give your frustrations a rest.
Make more right turns than left. Don’t each lunch at noon. Go at 11:15 and you’ll see a world of difference.
If you’re burned out on drive-time radio and the10-song playlist or the talk-radio, get the satellite channels and tune in to the comedy channel or the Margaritaville channel (I am required to mention that per my pre-nup with Detective Sandy) and just relax.
Play a CD (but stay away from the heavy-metal music; it’s too aggressive and leads to one beating on their chest like the football players do).
If nothing else, count the plastic car bumpers along the wall on GA 400. Whatever!
And — especially — GET OFF THE PHONE!