Friday, June 13, 2014

Oh dirt road, where have you gone?

Getting off work at 4pm this past Tuesday, I made my way onto Independence Parkway, which will forever be known as Battleground Road, but renamed on a grand scheme to announce our historical past and increase visitors to the San Jacinto Monument, I was told.  I can’t say with any certainty that it changed a danged thing, except to confuse people.  This is the beginning of the rush hour going home traffic.

The wise Loves people up in Oklahoma City decided SH225 and Independence Parkway would be the perfect place to build a giant truck stop.  This is where G’s Icehouse was at one time and along with the truck terminal back on the bend across the road from Akzo Nobel, they’ve effectively created a traffic nightmare of 18-wheelers dragging long trailers across the path of thousands of shift workers and tourists either going or coming.

Crossing over SH-225, I nervously enter the violent fray of NASCAR wannabes, except I am in a lifted Jeep Wrangler and determined to stay within the speed limit of 65 miles per hour.  This causes a terrific amount of stress on my drive home, as no less than a half dozen near rear end collisions will be encountered before the flyovers to SH-146 going north and south.

Therein lies the problem.  In order to gain any and all lane advantages, the wannabe racers (read lifted pick-up trucks, motorcycles, and everything in between) will use any and all lanes prior to the flyovers and then cut across in front of anyone in their path to make their exit.  Now add about 15 miles per hour above the other 75 mile per hour vehicles to the equation and you have what one woman we know describes as a mi-ra-tion. 

The word does not officially exist in any dictionary, but a miration it is and a very stressful and dangerous miration to boot.

The flyover heading north off of SH225 is posted at 45 mph.  I can take it at 65 on cruise if I pay close attention and because I drive it often.  At 65 I will have a vehicle so close to my back window that all I can see is their windshield.  At the bottom of the flyover, the speed limit drops to 60 mph, but Lord help anyone who would dare to go that slow!  The long unbroken white line on your left side no longer is heeded and the speeding vehicles boil out from behind me, crossing the line like Petty and Foyt.

The race is on!  I try to make my way to the third lane from the right because I am not going to go down business 146 which is at the bottom of the Fred Hartman Bridge and the racing trucks and cars are weaving in and around me like rockets, causing brake lights to flash their warning and deadly potential.  I’m still on cruise doing 65 – I dare not go slower, as I am often ten miles per hour slower than everyone else even though I am breaking the law doing 5 over.

Why don’t I simply join them in exhilarating and reckless abandon you may wonder?  Because no matter how fast I go, it won’t be fast enough.  I simply do not want to get “runned over”.  Okay, as I come down the bridge, it may appear that the race is over, but noooo!  Now it gets into a mad rush to get to the Spur 330 flyover and the inconsiderate and rude jet-propelled wannabees use the two left lanes to pass as many vehicles as they can so they can dangerously rip across the lanes and fly op the raised road to Veterans Highway.

The 4pm crowd is  only the beginning of the rush and by 5pm, it is much worse as more and more rabidly foamy-mouthed drivers elbow their way through the fast-moving traffic so they can get home and sit on the couch.  At one time I complained that certain cops parking on the bridge were actually creating a problem, but no more.  I’ve reversed my stance on that one for sure.

We have evolved into an arrogant and rudely distracted society where dark-tinted windows have empowered many obnoxious drivers.  They obviously feel they can do whatever they dang well please without accountability.  If you don’t like it, tough noogies.  Now get out of my way!
I finally begin my exit onto the North Main feeder road only to have a car whip in front of me and guess what, Smartphone in hand, they immediately slow to 35 mph.  To my right are 3 rapidly approaching cars wanting to get on SH-146 and a quick assessment tells me we are all going to arrive at the exit/entrance at the same time.  The Smartphone driver is so distracted, they slow to 25 mph by the time they get to the feeder and a white Honda Accord shoots the small gap between my Jeep and the black sedan.  All I can do is blow my horn in protest.

I punch the accelerator to get past the near miss and the black car’s driver is now down to about 15 mph and cruises over to the right lane never taking their eyes off their phone.  Shaking my head in disgust, I stop at North Main’s red light.  A quick survey to the four cars around me reveals 3 out of the 4 are already texting.  The light turns green and I make a hard left and glancing at my mirror shows all the cars, except the ones behind me are still at the light.  The drivers don’t know the light has changed.

I make it all the way to Bob Smith Road before another light stops me.  As I roll up beside the cars to my left, I note the first and third car’s driver’s are texting.  I catch the Massey Tompkins light green and enjoy the last mile or two before I am home distraction free.  It was the only part of the 16 mile commute that resembled a peaceful drive on a dirt road.  Mercy.


Anonymous said...

It will be all in the past short timer. We will miss you on the track. SL

Anonymous said...

Haha I live on a dirt road love it. Bec

Anonymous said...

It's the same on my side of H-town, too! Texting and "How many cars can run the red light..." I pray that I never have to experience the air bags in the car, but I am comforted knowing that they are there. SR

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I don't drive a car. DT

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