N'awlins at heart

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

You're paying for the convenience?

Okay, where to begin. The drive to work this morning. I use to make this 25 mile each way drive regularly, twice a day, on the bike. As of lately it's been cold, and so I drive the truck. This consists of taking Beltway 8. One of Houston's fabulous toll roads.

When I headed to work Friday I noticed my usual on ramp was closed for some sort of construction. (Apparently the type of construction that doesn't require anyone to work on it because in the many times I've driven past there I haven't seen anybody). I decided to take the feeder road to the next on ramp. That was a mistake. Houston is constantly doing road work. If you've never lived here, let me tell you, this city makes road maps and GPS absolutely worthless. I got to the I-10 overpass, and more construction made the road 2 lanes. Being in the left lane, I was forced to turn onto I-10 West, which was not where I wanted to be. I had taken a few back roads so I went a different way to get to work. Took longer but I hate to U-turn, it makes me feel like I've made a mistake and I don't want to dwell in the past.

So Saturday, I decided to save a few bucks taking the feeder again (AKA Frontage Rd. everywhere else). (Gotta make that cheddah). Thinking "It's Saturday, shouldn't be too busy". I did learn from my mistake and got into the right lane this time. Success, I continued up the feeder. A few miles down the road I encountered Grandma Cottontop. The name synonomous with safe driving. I, being a respectful driver, was in the far right lane (of 3). The lane to my left has the option of taking a left or going straight. The far left lane must turn left. That's what the big white sign means. I thought nothing of Ms. Cottontop sitting in the far left lane with her left blinker on. And apparently neither did Joe Driver in the middle lane who also had a signal on denoting his intentions to turn left. But everything changed when the light turned green. Joe D headed to the left, while Ms. Cottontop continued her trek forward. She came inches from slamming into the driver side of Joe's car and honked and gave HIM dirty looks. After he pulled away she continued in the left lane, left blinker sparkling like "The Oaks" at Christmas. I wanted nothing to do with her madness, so I took off like a virgin at a Jihad Convention.

Now, on the subject of this left turn only, and turn optional lane. Now mind you this is a hypothetical situation (or is it?). Say I'm in the left turn only lane, and you are in the "can make a left if you want to" lane. This does not give you the right to choose any lane you want when you make that left (without your blinker, which I may add is a $160 ticket here. Don't ask how I know, just trust me.). With all the construction here I often wonder how hard it is to paint the white lines that show "can turn if you want to" guy he needs to turn to the far right lane. Unfortunately, these lines wear out from all the jackasses who don't turn into their proper lane, or cross the line while doing it. Now, considering every intersection like that is this city sends you to the far right lane, even if the lines are hard to see, common sense tells you wher you should go. And don't give me the dirty look because you can't navigate a normal street. I am a firm believe that every 5 years people should be required to retest the written and driving portions of the licensing test. Especially Ms. Cottontop and Mr. Hypothetical. And just as an FYI, if you hit my car because you can't drive, I guarantee when I get out of it, my car isn't the only thing that's going to get hit.

So, along comes today's morning commute. With my mind on a million other things I forgot that my entrance was closed. Having such a successful drive the last 2 times, I decided to go against my best judgement, and make the u-turn for the previous entrance. The next u-turn however was about 2 miles ahead and definitely fun to navigate in rush hour traffic. 20 minutes later I was finally on my way. I had just about enough time to forget about my earlier inconvenience (10 miles up the road or so) when the next one arrived. Usually 4 lanes, they have recently merged an on-ramp immediately into 3 lanes, using concrete barricades. It's another one of the self fixing sections of highway that apparently don't need workers present either. And has been this way for months. Today, for shits and giggles, they used orange cones and made it 2 lanes. As much trouble as these people have driving on the 4 lane highway, 2 lanes was just too much. Traffic came to an immediate halt! It was at this point that I had to laugh realizing, I pay for this inconvenience. I pay $6 a day in tolls to go to work, and apparently I do it to ensure that I am totally stressed, and aggravated before I even get to work...


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