An Open Heart
Michael Johnson Mancinelli

Road Rage - How Justice Was Metted Out in the Route 7 Corridor

00roadrage There is a science to driving in traffic; rules, regulations and social mores developed and clearly understood by the ever-widening organized aggregate called 'that wave of people I drive to work with every day'. Some examples of these rules might be

  • don't come to a complete stop at that three-way on Cedar, just look right and go if you can, otherwise we get backed up to that last stop and then all hell breaks loose.
  • look left at the three-way at the end of Cedar, if you can see cars, turn right and go around, this appears to meter the flow.
  • stay in the right lane starting 3 lights back (or when you start to see congestion) if you are going to make the right turn to Super 7. we all hereby agree that we will not use the funnel method at the last light.
  • if the line to get on 95 South is past the hospital, go to the next exit, turn right, turn right, go straight and get on one exit south.  This appears to meter things.
  • if you do get in line to enter 95 South from Super 7 make sure you merge in the funnel method a the end.  Do not go driving up the shoulder or someone will chase your ass down and put you on time out.

Those are just a few, but they are the big ones and they are an amazing occurrence that helps us collectively manage the horrendous overflow that we are. Lately another rule has been developing but I'm not sure where it's going because it involves a somewhat dangerous and winding dirt road without a guard rail, above a river as a bypass to some significant backup caused by the overflow of Local 7 evacuees coming out of Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  We know this will stop once the construction moves from the intersection at Wilton High school to beyond the route 33 cutoff where 7 can be skirted alternatively. In the mean time, how many people will go around, causing another metering affect, and how many people will choose to spend an average of 7 minutes in line waiting to get past the new meter (which is finally developing a funnel approach to each detoured vehicle allowing the release of one hostage vehicle in line as if we have added our own stop sign.

In any event, these rules are developed out of necessity, over time and without anyone but a few collective spouses actually speaking a word of it. Think about this, the old brain kicks in the hive mentality and if we accept (without much thought I would imagine) that we are part of this large moving organism then we manage to make it a little better for everyone.  So what happens when somebody gets out of line?  I saw it this morning and still can't believe what I witnessed.

Before I launch the story of the VW Bug and the Pickup, let me say that there are always a few spoilers who won't get in line and wait their turn and for the most part we deal with them effectively by refusing to let them in until the last minute, causing multiple I'm going to be late for work because I'll have to go around heart attacks. By and large, in this part of Southern Connecticut, despite Nanny's opinion, the drivers are rational, well behaved and sane.

So this morning I'm in line waiting to get on Super 7 and the VW Bug in the left lane is getting ready to dive in front of the truck in front of me as soon as he opens up so much as an inch. Well he does open an inch.  He opens a good 2 or 3 feet and then steps on the gas to catch up.  She misses his quarter panel by a coon's hair. They are momentarily deadlocked.

He starts yelling at her, she is yelling back (this was her biggest mistake, if she'd just looked at him with that 'I'm a complete moron and I can't believe I just did that to you' look, he would probably have been diffused). I am sitting in my car giving NoMans the play by play because he is too far behind to see it. I realize at this point that he has his door open.  She guns her engine and dives in front of him as he's lost track of the line while yelling at her. I wonder if she did hit him? He chases her down the line and gets all up in her stuff. This cannot be comfortable and I am thinking I'm going to be late to work because he's going to run her into a telephone pole and then we'll all have to wait but part of me is glad for this display of public punishment because I notice not one car from the left lane made any attempt to cut over.  Suddenly they all had somewhere else to be.

At the turn she performs another faux pas and cuts up on the right, which does not make the final left onto Super 7 but continues back into the deeps of Wilton. I know what she's going to do and she doesn't let me down.  Like the terrified sneak that she is, she slips in front of a dump truck at the very last minute and makes the turn.  The Pickup truck is right behind her. I am right behind him (both of us in the correct lanes, just gunning it).  I am not about to miss any of this.

The VW Sneak leads us on a merry chase across the 3 mile connecting stretch of Super 7.  We are doing close to 90 mph before I come to my senses and let them go.  I am disappointed to have missed the rest of the show but I don't think I ought to be doing 90 in traffic, even if it is keeping up with me.  I get back in the right lane and behave myself.

I approach the line to 95 South and determine that I am in alignment with the Norwalk Hospital rule and do not have to go around. I look up and see that I am about six vehicles behind the Pickup Truck.  How did this happen? Suddenly he makes as if to pull back into the middle lane and changes his mind.  He has done this because the VW was coming up on his left and he intended to scare the bejesus out of her.  How did she get behind me? One more time.  To drive the point home. After that I have no idea what happened.  All I know is I stayed with the Pickup truck all the way to exit 9 where he got off (I get off exit 8). My guess is she decided to meter herself one exit down.  Or just go home and call it a day.