Friday, February 1, 2008

What lane am I in anyway?

This post isn't about the freeway driving or merging aptitudes here in the South (believe me though, that post will be coming friends, yes it will), rather it is about the roads themselves.

Californians, we like to think we aren't so shallow or fossil-fuel obsessed, we love our cars, our roads, our deftly engineered, precariously balanced, interlocking cloverleaf overpasses. Overpasses that enable the necessity that has become an addiction which grips those hardest who need most the freedom. Our routes and secrets for avoiding traffic, the cloverleaves that deposit our climate controlled, plush leather, heated-seat, living coffins from one multilane artery to another without reducing our speed "unless there's traffic," the jinx we all utter at least once a week; the closer we live to The City, or LA, or Sac, the more frequently we say it and cross our fingers, knock on wood, or cross ourselves.

Living in The Golden State, I thought of roads in categories, none inherently better than the others: back roads, streets, big/busy streets, highways, freeways. In Cali, most roads are well maintained given how much we drive. The state, counties, and cities know expensive construction projects, diverting and backing up traffic, are cheaper and generate less ill will than the uprising that would ensue, keyfobs and lattes in-hand, were our precious, precious roads poorly maintained. We expect the same common courtesy in other parts of the country.

I experienced a phenomenon living in Chattanooga that I have rediscovered in Nashville: when in rains here, as it often does in winter...and spring...and summer, the street lines simply disappear. One might think that CalTrans and TDOT could find a single, reliable source for reflective paint, but they must get different catalogs. Dividers, bike lanes (where they exist), shoulder lines, stop lines, arrows, everything painted on the streets, everything friends, all completely invisible when wet.

This is faith-based driving. These roads that suddenly veer left, on a hill, with a blind stop coming directly at me, wet roads, invisible street lines, I say a silent prayer prayer to Ohchit, I mentally divide the street into thirds: left lane, turn lane, right lane, I guess where my lane should be, hope no one is coming over the blind stop and hang on.

Will I make it?


Bret said...

I noticed the same thing when driving in Salt Lake City a few years ago... it can get pretty nervewracking. How do people not cause accidents right and left the first time they visit a new town?

Margo said...

I am an old friend of Flo's from way way back. Your blog is hilarious - I too have found myself praying to "OHCHIT" while in the midst of trying to navigate some of the roads out where I live. Although - not silently.