Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


Death to Sidezoomers

Sidezoomers versus Lineuppers

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 individual’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 you’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 — all right, the experts didn’t say that, but they meant to — 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 there’s a sign specifically instructing otherwise.) People in the narrowing left lanes refrain from shooting ahead, while people in the right through lanes — this is hard to swallow, for those of us inclined toward vigilantism, but crucial — 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.

“It’s not a matter of fairness or unfairness,” Morgan said. “It’s a matter of there’s no violation, no one is being injured.”

But that’s capitalism for you.


6 responses to Death to Sidezoomers

Kevin August 3, 2008

I can’t believe I made it all the way through that without mentioning Portland.

Matt August 4, 2008

Does your hate rise to the level of vigilantism? Think you’d mind if you were from Italy instead of England (opposite compulsive instinct)?

The “?” indicates a question, btw, let me know if you prefer a different medium.

CaptainGroggySwagger August 4, 2008

I very much tend to be a vigilante. There is something about a shell of metal, glass and plastic that makes them think they can get away with things. I try to level those ill-gotten gains with some losses. If I can force a side-zoomer to merge behind me, the victory I feel is real. I don’t even do the “Look straight ahead and play ignorant” thing; I look directly at them while I am forcing them into an impending tuft of shrubbery. Other acts of mobile revenge that I delight in include:

– Taking my foot off the gas pedal and decelerating at a coasting loss when I am being tailgated. Works great on two-lane roads and in the right lane of a freeway that they are going to exit from.

– When merging onto a freeway, staying right of the merge while matching speed of the lane left of me to prevent side-zoomers from passing me.

– Blocking the left lane of the freeway by matching speed of a car in the right lane when I see a reckless speeder coming up behind me.

It might surprise you to know that Jeff is a side-zoomer. He doesn’t do some of the terrible zooms like the exit lane hop, but he has been known to zoom, at times on the side.

Kevin August 4, 2008

I am not quite at The Captain’s level of vigilanteism and ‘hate’ sounds like such an ugly word when you quote it back at me like that but, yes, I believe that society cannot function well unless its members cooperate to punish the transgressors.

I used to ride to Tahoo frequently with a side-zoomer. When I drove, he would criticize me for merging too early (sign of weakness, you see) and when he drove, I used to duck my head down in case anyone recognized me.

No-one you know though.

Kevin August 6, 2008

Hmmm Tahoo. The ski resort that’s also a search engine.

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