Friday, August 29, 2008

Can I Just Sacrifice a Miata or Something?

So I figured out why the traffic gods hate me.

A little background:

Every morning I pull out of the apartment complex and onto Lindbergh and immediately exit onto Olive to head over to 170. Every morning this week, Olive has been backed up all the way to Lindbergh (presumably all the way from 170), which has incited me to stay on Lindbergh and then take Manchester over. This alternate route is generally about five or ten minutes longer, but it's a better route when there's a lot of traffic on Olive or 170 (it's the way I take to go home, because at 5pm, the Galleria is open and Brentwood/170 is a zoo). I've been under the assumption that they're working somewhere on Olive and have a lane closed and that it would eventually clear up. Like, after a day or two. But it's been all week.

Yesterday was the worst. I got stuck in the left-turn lane at Lindbergh and Clayton and couldn't get out of it--only I couldn't see that I was in it because it looks like they've redone that intersection and I was behind a cement mixer. Then I sat through three lights getting onto Manchester, and a thirty-minute commute that's normally a twenty minute commute became a forty-five minute commute. Then on the way home I got stuck behind an accident on Manchester and my normally thirty-minute return commute took me an hour.

I was sitting still, parked, on Manchester in front of a Starbucks for something like five minutes, so I pulled off the road and went in for a chai.

Add to all this the fact that gas prices jumped by nearly twenty cents yesterday, and the only conclusion I could come to was that there were simply more people driving than usual. But that didn't make any sense--why would that many people just start driving at 7:30 in the morning at the end of August?

If you've figured it out at this point, congrats, you're smarter than I am.

This morning, I was relieved to see that Olive wasn't backed up all the way to Lindbergh, so I took that exit only to discover that it was, in fact, backed up all the way to just-before-Lindbergh. But I was committed to it, so I sat it out, and I'd finally have a chance to see what all this supposed construction was about. But there was not construction, and about half-way to 170, the congestion cleared and the streets opened up. It was surreal. But the other direction was jammed--the other direction that was all free and clear at the other end of Olive. It was like all of these people were on their way at 7:30 to some arbitrary location right smack in the middle of Olivette.

And then it occurred to me. It hit me right in the forehead. Summer's over. Duh.

There literally are more people driving in the middle of Olivette at 7:30, and they're going to schoo. First of all, the buses are running, and parents are dropping off their children, and the next batch of newly-licensed juniors and seniors is starting to drive themselves to school. And, perhaps less-obvious but of potentially significant impact, nobody's taking vacations. Throughout the summer there's a percentage of people who just aren't on the road because they're somewhere else.

The downside to all this? It's not going to clear up until December, and then it will start up again and go until May. So, the long story shortened: the traffic gods still hate me, just not quite as arbitrarily as I'd assumed.


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