Tag Archives: traffic

Good Time In Bad Traffic ©

In traffic with Len Hodgeman 

Saw A Man Walking Upside Down traffic

OK, I didn’t actually see a man walking upside down yesterday—but this line from a John Mellencamp song did pop into my head during a rather peculiar event that happened to me.

It was a long, hot day.  The air conditioning at my Redwood City office was broken.  I was working against a tight deadline, had an important meeting in San Mateo at 5 pm, and was late getting out of the office and on the road.

The traffic was unbelievably bad.  Twenty minutes later, I had gone two miles and wasn’t even on the freeway yet.  I called my client and told him I’d be late.  No problem, 5:30 or even 5:45 would be OK. 

I finally get to the freeway onramp—I could have crawled faster than I was driving.  I need to go north, but south looks a lot clearer.  I swing onto the freeway and pick up a bit of speed—but in the wrong direction.  I know that.  I’ll get off at Woodside, pick up 280, race north—it’s generally faster—and make the critical meeting.

Wrong.  Woodside is just as bad.  Oh, did I mention that the air conditioning in my car wasn’t working either?  I’m all in a sweat, frustrated, exhausted. 

Let’s try a different tack.  Take El Camino instead. Uh oh …  bad idea.

After an hour on the road, I’m now about a mile from where I started.  I call the client and tell him we need to reschedule.  He’s cool with it.  I’m definitely not cool.  But I resign myself to another hour or so on the road, and continue inching ahead until I reach Belmont.  I’m thinking about pulling into the nearest air-conditioned place and sitting it out.

I pull up to a stoplight.  Wearily, I glance to my left, across three lanes of traffic.

And there on the curb is a young woman, in a light cotton tie-dyed dress—with the telltale white cords of her iPod earphones hanging down from her pageboy haircut.  She was dancing like there was no tomorrow, like she was in the coolest, hippest dance club ever, with fun people and great music, having the time of her life.

She’s smiling and rocking and shaking her groove thing.  Twisting and gyrating and moonwalking to beat the band.  She seemed totally unaware of the heat, the traffic or the bystanders that were keeping their distance.

She was happy.  Joyful.  Blissful.  It just poured out of her, splashing all over the sidewalk, streaming into the street and running up the sides of the cars, washing away people’s hard days and long drives.  Suddenly I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

I laughed again and kept on laughing.  I wanted the long stoplight to stay red.  I didn’t want to leave her.  It was sheer pleasure just being on the same planet with her.  Even as I looked away to make sure the traffic wasn’t moving without me, I could hear my own music rising.  The heat and the traffic no longer mattered. 

These words from an old song slipped gently into my head.

Saw a man walking upside down yesterday.
TV’s on the blink,
Made Galileo look like a boy scout.

Sorry ’bout that, let it all hang out.

I don’t remember the heat or the traffic being that bad the rest of the way?  Maybe it changed, maybe my attitude changed.  Maybe, there are people and situations in life that give us the gift of escaping life for a moment into a totally different space.

Thank you young lady, wherever you are.

photo by vramak

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Four-way Stop©

A different view of traffic by Bob Deason

Stop,   Look,   Listen

trafficThe main drag in the town where I live has a number of signal lights.  If you spend any time in the downtown area, you will see lots of traffic laws being broken.  Drivers will speed up at a yellow light and end up running through the red, or turn right on red in front of someone who has the green.  There have been a number of close calls where a pedestrian (me) has almost been run down when he had the right of way . . . in a crosswalk . . . with the little “walking guy” light on (venting with righteous indignation).

However, if you move one street west, the traffic environment is totally different.  This is still an important business street, but there are no signal lights, just four-way stop signs.  People who would pull out in front of you or run you down at a signal light will come to a complete stop, smile, and wave at you to go first . . . even if they have the right of way.  I’m pretty sure that at least some of the same people travel both streets, so what is this amazingly civilizing effect?

I think it is because at a four-way stop, you actually have to look someone in the face.   Sometimes you can actually read her lips, “You go ahead.”  Then you nod or wave and say “Thank you.”  Yes, you actually say it out loud even though she can’t hear you.  It’s just the right thing to do.

I really think this is the secret to something.  When you look at someone’s face, and they look at yours, there is a connection.  You recognize that you are neighbors in one sense or another.  So my prescription for improving the world is obvious.  Eliminate signal lights and returning to stop signs.  OK, that is unrealistic and would probably cause gridlock, and maybe even economic chaos.   I guess I am just recommending that we all slow down a little and get to know our neighbors on this tiny planet.  If everyone would do that, we would all feel happier, more connected to each other, and safer crossing the street . . . in a crosswalk . . . with the walking guy light on.

photo by crazyfilmgirl

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