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Tom reflects on Tucson drivers and the hazards of Old Pueblo rush-hour traffic

click to enlarge bigstock-urban-traffic-jam-in-a-city-st-106537532.jpg

It is the toothless hillbilly matriarch of all clichés to complain about traffic. Everybody complains, almost nobody ever does anything about it, and I've mostly been able to float through life being able to avoid and/or ignore it.

I've driven in lots of different cities (and regions) and most have unique (but discernible) rhythms. In Los Angeles, everybody drives really fast and if you're not doing at least 80 on the interstate, you're somebody's sorry-ass grandmother. I've driven in Manhattan and almost enjoyed it. In New York City, if you get six inches ahead of somebody in the other lane, it's okay to cut over.

What's really hilarious about New York City is that if you look like any of the male characters from Saturday Night Fever, you're allowed to double—or even triple-park for an extended amount of time without fear of being hassled. But, if you're just a generic white dude and you stop to let somebody off or pick somebody up, you will instantly be accosted by a female traffic cop who looks like she used to play linebacker for the Jets. That happened to me one time in New York, so I instantly endeared myself to the officer by asking, "Didn't you used to work at the malt shop on What's Happening?"

Alas, our beloved Tucson's idea of rhythm is Elaine Benes dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire on Seinfeld. Tucson traffic is an un-glorious, unholy mess. Everybody drives like they did back where they just came from, making those of us who have been here a long time wish that they would go back.

Part of the reason traffic has rarely bothered me here is that I do most of my driving during non-peak hours—mid-morning, mid-afternoon, evening. Apparently, as I just found out, all of the freaks come out during rush hour. Last week, during morning rush hour, I had to drive down to a spot near the airport on three consecutive days. The road is full of people who obviously employ the circular logic of "I suppose I wouldn't have to drive so dangerously if I would just get up 10 minutes earlier, but why get up 10 minutes earlier if I'm willing to drive like this?"

It's absolutely stunning how aggressively bad drivers wear their willingness to endanger the lives of others for that one extra forward spot in the queue like it's an A-hole Badge of Honor. If you could cut through the layers of mold to get to their pea-sized brains, I'll bet that they actually believe that it's more important for them to get to their crappy-ass job that it is for everybody else to arrive at their respective destinations. It's sad and frightening.

Two days in a row, I saw the same giant rectum break multiple laws in getting on the freeway. He ran a red light while making a right turn and cut in front of people, causing them to hit their brakes. Then, he was in the lane to go straight (passing all the people backed up in the lane to turn left onto the onramp) and at the last moment, he would veer sharply to the left and cut in front of somebody. I will admit that I probably got madder at the people who let him in.

A lot of people fantasize about having a bazooka attached to their hoods so they could blow up the cars of people like that. I'm non-violent, so I just wish that all of the drivers in line shared my mindset and proceeded along, literally bumper-to-bumper, so that the rectum would have to wait until mid-morning before he could get in that lane.

On the way back home, I had to do something at the UA, so I got off on Speedway. Some guy was barreling down the frontage road, talking on the phone. He blew right through the "Yield" sign and almost crashed into the back of me as I got into the lane to turn right onto Speedway. He pulled up next to me, rolled down his window and screamed, "What the hell's wrong with you?! You coulda hit me."

I said, "First of all, I was ahead of you. I had the right of way and you're supposed to yield."

"I did yield."

I asked, "What do you think yield means?"

In his angry explanation, he used his hands a lot, causing him to drop his phone and prompting me to say, "No, that's merge."

"They're the same thing!," he bellowed.

I was going to ask him what charter school he had graduated from (obviously cum laude), but the light turned green and I drove off. Real conservatives (not Trumpistas) have, as one of their basics tenets, a desire for smaller government. Along those lines, I think we could streamline the DMV by reducing the written driver's exam to one question, that being "Define 'yield.'" That would increase DMV revenue as people would have to take the test over and over and over until they got it right. In the end, they'd be a little bit smarter and they'd also be better drivers. That's a win-win-win.

I have the utmost respect and sympathy for the law-abiding folks who have to drive at that time every day. I don't know how you do it.

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