I supposed there were not all that many drivers gritting their teeth behind their steering wheels, practicing what Jerry Seinfeld once called the stare-ahead, while declining to let the sidezoomers in and musing at the same time that this is the problem with modern American capitalism, really, this anti-aristocratic all-men-are-created-equal narrative we pretend to cherish while simultaneously celebrating the individualâ€™s right to do whatever advances his own interests without technically breaking the law, Gordon Gekko triumphant over Cesar Chavez, and that is an exit-only lane, you rodent, so no, you are not cutting in front of me unless you look as if you might have a gun in your car, in which case, O.K., but youâ€™re still a rodent.
The ideal solution – according to traffic experts – seems flawed to me.
FIRST, EVERYBODY REMAINS UNRUFFLED, without abrupt changes of lane or speed, as the lane-drop comes into view. Everybody takes three deep, cleansing breaths â€” all right, the experts didnâ€™t say that, but they meant to â€” and considers both the imminent needs of everybody else and the system as a smoothly functioning whole.
Then everybody begins to slow, not too much, all in concert. All cars remain in their lanes, using all the real estate. (On the question of frontage roads and exit-only lanes, the experts waffled; those are arguably part of the real estate, they agreed, but they are meant for a different purpose, and this scenario relies upon everybody buying into the same rules. So no frontage-roading or fake-exit-laning, unless thereâ€™s a sign specifically instructing otherwise.) People in the narrowing left lanes refrain from shooting ahead, while people in the right through lanes â€” this is hard to swallow, for those of us inclined toward vigilantism, but crucial â€” leave big spaces in front of their cars for the merging that is about to commence. We resist the freeze-out-the-sidezoomer urge. We prepare to invite them in.
Graceful merging is all well and good but, in the scenario described by the author, the lineuppers are already sitting still and sidezoomers are already zooming by them. If the lineuppers (or, more acurately, the Good Thing Society Has People Like Me people) let in the sizezoomers in the prescribed one-two-one-two fashion described by the so-called experts, the lineuppers would proceed at only half the ideal rate and sidezoomers (more accurately,the I Beat Out the Stupid Sheep Just Now, Ha Ha people) would have their sheep and eat them too.
The traffic cop sums the whole situation up nicely.
â€œItâ€™s not a matter of fairness or unfairness,â€ Morgan said. â€œItâ€™s a matter of thereâ€™s no violation, no one is being injured.”
But that’s capitalism for you.