Thursday, September 18, 2008


I was prepared to write a rant today, but after thinking it over, I was unsure if it was a real problem or just me being pissy.

You see, there is road construction going on near my apartment. One of the lanes is routinely blocked off and everyone gets to merge into the other. This being Washington, everyone pretty much lets everyone else in (one of the reasons I love it here). In California, for example, you generally have to discharge a firearm to even earn a glance from a driver and you more or less have to ‘merge aggressively,’ which is defined as ‘shoving your car into the tiniest gap you can and hoping the other guy doesn’t hit you.’ He will, of course, honk and swear at you, but that’s like saying ‘hi’ in Cali.

Anyway, every morning, I dutifully get into the necessary lane. However, someone will always zip past me in the ‘off’ lane, getting as far ahead as they can before they merge, thereby skipping past 20-odd cars. They merge ahead of me and I sit there, becoming irritated.

So, my question is, is this behavior rude or just smart? Obviously, the people that do this are moving ahead of me, so it is definitely a winning strategy. However, you are basically peeing on someone else’s cornflakes when you do it. Should I get irritated or just shrug it off?

If not, then I will go back to patiently singing (badly) along with the radio. If so, I will rehearse choice words to shout. Such as: ‘Your mother, though a fine, upstanding lady, prefers the affections of orcs rather than those of a gentleman of human descent!’ Or possibly: ‘The equipment on your main in WoW is laughably underpowered for his or her level!’

I may need to work on my swearing.



Samotl said...

That's nothing. If you want a really adventurous driving experience, come to Johannesburg (South Africa) Most of our roads are supposedly being upgraded but you never see any actual workmen, most drivers thing their cars all have built-in go-first-ers and that the indicator stalk is only there to decorate the dashboard.
There are also "Taxis" whose drivers will stop anywhere, any time, for any reason (be it a prospective passenger or an attractive woman) and don't even know that there are such things as rules of the road.

If you can survive the roads here, you can drive anywhere.

Eliza Wyatt said...

From a fellow Washingtonian? Rude. But then, you're right. We always let everyone else in, for the most part. Except for some of the drivers that were relocated from California.

Anonymous said...

Look at it from a pragmatic point of view. It's unlikely that insulting them will change their behavior. It's also more likely to make you feel worse than better.

The best thing to do is to take it in stride and let those little irritants go. People don't have to treat you fairly. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth.

And anyway, the law says you are required to let people merge. While it may not be strictly fair for them to cut in front of you, you're still required to slow down and let them in. Relax and roll with it.

Spitt said...

Oh God, that is so true... to a point. Not all California drivers are that bad. I routinely let people in. I do not get mad about it, since I am the one letting them in. My wife however gets mad. It can truly ruin the next hour to 2 hours for her. I have also been the one to skip ahead occasionally, but in essence it makes them feel like they got the better of you... but they might only save an extra 5 minutes in the scheme of things.

So my advice... if you are really late, do it... but when people do, do it, take it in stride.

spasticfreakshow said...

99.9% of california drivers are exactly that bad and the few exceptions like yourself are in perpetual danger. i was shocked (lived there for 1.5 years) that they'd seem perfectly willing to create a car accident to avoid letting you in - even if they had kids in the back seat of their cars. their message was "kill my kids, go for it, but hell if i'm letting you into my lane!" sick. just sick.

now in washington, you can feel good that the energy is generally more positive on the road and shrug off the occasional a@#hole. keep being the good guy (in washington or in places like that) and don't let this guy phase you. imagine he has to get somewhere and it really is urgent for him, more so than for the other drivers, and you're helping him get to his wife in the hospital or to a meeting that if he's late for he'll lose his job.

israelis are insane drivers. they aren't the same as the south africans, and not quite as bad as the italians, but they are totally willing to cause a car accident bc you are pissing them off and most tourists are truly afraid to drive here. in actual reality, the only scary thing about israel is the crazy drivers.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the pacifists on this one. Who cares whether it's rude? Let it go. Don't let other people's agitation get you down. Have a great morning! Enjoy the weather! Listen to music! Smile and wave at the drivers who pass you by, and the ones who let you in.

Anonymous said...

Hi New to this comic but I just was surprised by you writing "peeing in someone else's cornflakes. I found it quite similar to expression that my family developed for whenever someone starts being pissy. I now enter it onto the internet and hope to see it become a new fad. So if anyone gets pissy with you just ask them "Who peed in your Cheerios?"

Anonymous said...

Honestly the people who zip past and merge at the merge point are technically doing it correctly. Merging before the merge point actually slows down the process of getting through to the single lane goodness, because it creates unexpected entry points, couple this with the zip by to the actual merge point and you wind up with the slinky effect.

Jason Janicki said...

Thanks for all the comments!

I don't really get upset at the merging, it's just vaguely irritating and I was wondering if I waste any energy on it.

Yes, Washington drivers tend to be VERY considerate, which is one of the things I love about the state.

My most 'interesting' ride ever was in a taxi in Paris. I was trying to reach my hotel from the train station and grabbed a cab. I told the driver where I needed to go and he went 'OK!' and then proceeded to drive like a maniac for 15 minutes. I was literally hanging on for dear life when he finally stopped, only to turn around and say 'What hotel was that again?' I told him and we did it again :)

Jason Janicki said...

Oh, and I've heard a couple different variations of 'peeing in someone else's cornflakes' over the years. The most common one I've heard is 'stepping in someone's cornflakes' (heard first on the Grimm Adventures of Billy and Mandy').

Anonymous said...

First of all, yes, rude! Such miscreants should be drawn and quartered and their bloody remains hung from highway overpasses as warnings to others.

Second, wow, Johannesburg sounds a lot like Miami (Florida).

Third, after driving in Miami for 30 years, I found the week I spent driving in an around Los Angeles and Hollywood surprisingly civilized.

Jerron said...

I live in Detroit. When that happens, people scoot up to the front, and past where the lane ends, trying to get the last two car lengths even though there isn't two lanes anymore. Usually, in a large SUV. I don't let them in. Heck, my Cavalier, new, was worth 1/4 of their SUV, who are they trying to intimidate? Not me, I've been on a 350cc motorcycle next to a 60,000# semi that didn't even see me. They get really pissed off when I don't follow their agenda of ultimate superiority.

Honestly, even in Detroit, I've never got in an actual accident doing that. I've probably been less than 1/4" away from one, but I'm too damn stubborn to give in. You want to be in front? Go ahead. But it's not going to be *me* letting your sorry ass in.

(Never got in a gunfight, either. Then again, I don't carry a gun, so it'd be a bit one-sided. Thinking of getting a CCW permit, but if I haven't needed one yet...)