On my way to work today, I got caught in an awful traffic jam caused by a fatal accident that closed the northbound lanes for several hours. I should have known better than to get on the freeway to begin with, noting that it was backed up pretty badly, but I managed to get right back off to try to make it into work on the back roads. Well, as so many others had decided to do the same, even that alternate route was bumper to bumper and barely moving. Called into work to let them know I’d be seriously late and settled in with Diane Rehm and a story about college education (how timely).
So, I find myself sitting at the end of the offramp about to attempt to turn left and merge into traffic once cross-traffic is clear. As all lanes are completely full and stopped, I follow the guy in front of me into the center island, activate my right turn signal and hope like heck someone lets us in. Good news! The guy in front of me is let in by a big pickup, so I ready myself to zipper in after him.
But the lady in the red Honda Civic is having none of that. She’s practically kissing polite pickup guy’s bumper as he inches forward. A quick glance over my shoulder and I see the white minivan behind her is doing exactly the same thing. Sigh So this is how it’s going to be. How long will I sit here as everyone jockeys self-centeredly for position? Big pickup inches forward, I inch forward, red Honda inches forward right along side me. I catch her eye and gesture that I’d like to merge. She shakes her head negative. We all inch forward. I catch her eye again and point to big pickup, thumbs up, point to myself, thumbs up? No dice – she’s adamant that it’s her turn.
I could let this go. I’m not really bothered, but we’re all wanting to get out of this mess and on principle I decide to take a stand. So I turn off the radio and roll down the passenger window. I call out to her loudly, “Excuse me, can you please let me in?” She rolls down her window and I think we may be able to work this out.
“No. I’ve been stuck in this for an hour,” she replies.
“Well, it looks like everyone’s been stuck in this mess for some time. Nevertheless, I’d like to get out of it, too, and I can’t do that until I can merge into a lane. Now, I noticed that truck right let the guy in front of me into the lane, so how about we take turns? You could let me in now and then we’ll both be on our way.”
She shakes her head emphatically. “No. I don’t have to.”
Well, now she’s just being petulant. I’m irritated. I can’t help but call her out. “Look, the solution to this jam is to take turns. It’s called zipper merging. We go, then you go, then we go, then you.” But, then I decided to do something quite out of character of me. I escalated the confrontation.
“Did you learn how to take turns in school? Now would be an opportune moment to demonstrate the social skills you were taught in kindergarten.” I knew at this moment I had lost, but I didn’t care. I’d eventually get to merge and sometime in the future I’d get to work, but it felt good to call her out.
“I am NOT a child.”
As she rolled up her window in a huff, my last words to her floated out with the wind: “That’s funny because you sure are acting like one.”
Little did she notice, during our verbal sparring a young dude in the lane to her right was maneuvering directly into her lane just ahead of her taking advantage of a bit of space she’d inadvertently left open as I held her attention. Just as her window went up, she realized she was in the process of being cut off and just as I noticed this amusing turn of events, the damnedest thing happened. Big pickup pulled ahead and young master of the cut-off dude smiles at me and waves me in front of him.
I gave him the thumbs up and pulled in just behind the big pickup as he pulled in behind me leaving selfish lady in the red Honda who was Not A Very Happy Camper at that moment two cars behind and visibly fuming.
Karma’s a bitch, sweetheart.
To whoever you are, young dude, thank you. You absolutely made my day.