Sunday, May 29, 2011

Surviving the Rat Races

Our apartment is lovely, and it is very nice to be back within driving distance of a bunch of family and friends, but with that blessing comes other challenges.  It's a little known fact that the postal code "MD" actually stands for "Maniac Drivers."

I'm not a slowpoke by nature; I usually cruise along the highways at least five miles over the legal limit.  But when everyone around me comes whizzing by at ten, twenty, and thirty miles over, I begin to wonder if I missed some statewide memo about disregarding the signs.  The highway to and from Ft. Meade is a posted 55 mph zone, and at times I fear for my life attempting to maintain 60.  I sped up next to one of my fellow drivers once just to see what the typical cruising speed was, and we maxed out at 85.  Seriously?

I am well aware that every state has a percentage of supremely rude drivers, but getting behind the wheel in Maryland seems to bring out the worst in people.  Every drive is a race; every two minutes there's another tailgater trying to drive into your trunk before he peels away in a cloud of burning rubber and baleful glares.  California drivers were downright mellow by comparison.

Merging is a problem, quite a larger problem than it might otherwise be because every intersection has yield lanes, and this state likes to combine on and off ramps.  Apparently merging in front of someone else is considered insulting, so everyone speeds up and closes ranks to prevent the merge from happening.  Is there some prize money riding on the most efficient commute?

What makes the situation more inexplicable is that there are swarms of police in the area.  They do pull people over, although apparently not as often as they could.  It doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent.  Maybe people budget 10% of their weekly income for speeding tickets, failure to signal, failure to yield, or failure to even slow down at a stop sign.  

For heaven's sake, it's just a highway, not NASCAR. 

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