Some days, you wake up feeling good about the world.
Birds are singing, the grass smells freshly mown and there’s not a cloud in the sky.
By some miracle, the squirrels haven’t gotten into the bird feeder and you don’t have to work tomorrow, and you just got paid. And you’re getting a tax refund.
But then you have to drive somewhere.
Worse, you have to do it with other people on the road at the same time. More of them every time you turn around, it seems.
Sometimes, all this driving you have to do happens on highways built to move traffic quickly, except that once the highways were built then loafered developers in khakis and name-brand fishing shirts developed the land alongside them.
That led to traffic, which required traffic lights, which slowed things right back down.
This happens a lot. It’s still happening today. Two lane highways start getting too busy, so the DOT spends years and millions of dollars to jack them up to four lanes so traffic doesn’t back up all the way to Florida.
Then the developers come back and put in 1,000 more homes and 42 convenience stores, so the four-lane roads start getting congested and people start fussing. So, the state studies things a while, then GDOT puts in traffic lights to keep people from running into each other.
Then we start wanting bypasses, like it’s some kind of surgery to keep us alive.
It’s called progress.
Still, as Liberty County commissioners join their peers around Georgia pondering whether to ask voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax to help pay for roads because other taxes apparently don’t cover that part of our infrastructure, I’m hoping maybe they’ll also consider that TSPLOST money for other things.
Commuter rail would be nice. So would bike paths. It would also be good to beef up traffic enforcement and driver’s ed.
In the meantime, some questions for you.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. Seriously. I’m curious. Maybe I’m insane. Maybe it’s fine out there.
1. Is it just me or do you feel you’re increasingly in other people’s way if you don’t drive 75 mph everywhere they go?
And here, a digression. My wife is from Arabi, a small town near Cordele. We used to drive over there on occasion. Once you got on the other side of Vidalia you never saw a car and only rarely passed a pickup. It was spooky, but kinda nice.
But then, well, you had to come back and somewhere around Pembroke you’d look in your rear view mirror and there are 10 people on your bumper. If it’s at night, they’ve got their brights on, too.
2. Am I the only one who gets on the interstate behind some slow truck only to watch some guy 14 cars behind driving a rusty 2002 Toyota Camry with no hubcaps and a Salt Life sticker holding the bumper on decide he’s going to jump the line, get in the middle lane and nearly kill everybody?
3. Am I the only one to get pulled out in front of when I’m the only one coming for miles?
4. Am I the only one who wonders why somebody in the passing lane drives slower than the folks in the slow lane?
5. Or has to ride the brakes to avoid rear-ending someone who wouldn’t know a turn signal from a happy meal?
6. Or has to wear sunglasses at night because some folks think bright lights help them see better all the time.
7. Or gets irritated driving behind someone who is tailgating someone else and his tailights are continually blinking on and off.
8. Or waits to get out into traffic and watches as someone turns without giving a signal that would’ve let you out?
Should it matter? I don’t know. Driving is the one thing most of us do every day. Whether it’s just around the block or from one county to another — and let’s face it, most of us around here commute somewhere — it’s a daily part of our life. We put our lives in one another’s hands day in and day out, and yet, as I’ve opined more than once, if some of you walked around pushing a buggy in a grocery store like you drive there would be fistfights every five minutes.
Case in point: drivers will race you to an exit, or a traffic light, to be first, but imagine standing in line to check out in a store and almost getting there when someone wheels their buggy up to beat you to the cash register. You’d give them the stink eye, at least.