Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lessons in Chicago Driving

Chicago is home to the most drawbridges in the world. They are nice things to walk over while gazing at the river. They add character to this city. They are a bitch when they are up.

This post could also be titled, 'I would kill you if I could legally get away with it with out going to jail or the loony bin'

I had to go to school today to pick up some homework that I am just going to put off longer. I didn't want to take public transportation, so I drove downtown. Traffic [like I should have expected but since I am intectually reduced didn't] was awful. Getting to the expressway took 40 minutes. It normally takes 10 during rush hour. So needless to say in my lack of caffeine, sore as hell state, I was in a mood. I turn onto my school's street, still about 6 blocks away and traffic slams to a halt. I'm talking New York style, not moving an inch, total halt.

My father always taught me that movement, even in an opposite direction, is still better then being stopped cold. He always called this the art of rat-mazing and I would like to think that I am on the verge of getting my post-graduate degree in this artform. It is impossible though to rat-maze when you are totally boxed in. Nothing was moving. I couldn't figure it out. Then I see that the bridge a block and a half ahead of me is moving up. It all makes sense now. People are starting to turn at the intersection and traffic is starting to move. I am able to get out of the middle lane and into the left-hand turn lane. I am one car away from taking the left to freedom when the car in front of me stops when the light turns yellow. I believe that when the light is yellow, no matter for how long, it is time to hit the gas as hard as possible. It seems that some people have an issue with this theory, obviously the woman in front of me did. So we stop. The two straight lanes haven't moved in 5 minutes and in 30 seconds I'll be out of this gridlock hell.

Or so I thought. The light turns green. The car in front of me does nothing. Let's apply some horn. Still nothing. My fellow drivers behind me chime in with their horns. No movement. The light turns yellow...then to red. Nothing. I shift the car into park. Waiting. I hate waiting. Here we go, the light turns green again, and someone behind me has chimed in with a shrill blast from their car horn. Nothing. I start adding in some choice language out my window and start gesturing for her to move forward so I can get by, and I add in my car horn to emphasize my displeasure with her lack of movement. The light turns red again.

Enough of this bullshit. I shift the car back into park. I get out of the car. Walk forward. Knock on her window [which she does not roll down] and begin to explain to her that we going to be sitting here for the next 15 minutes if she does not kindly take a left turn. She looks at me as if I have dropped my pants and begun to defacate in her presence. I notice that the other light is turning yellow, so I quickly return to my car, hoping that my visit forward had some impact. Our light turns green. No. Movement.

This woman is a real peach. I decide that maybe, like the interrogators in Gitmo, loud noises might be the solution. So I hold my horn down. You guess it no movement. The light turns. Another minute goes by. The lights switch again. My horn is reapplied. Nothing at all. I've now been in this block for damn near 20 minutes. I think I've moved all of 150 feet. I'm really starting to wish ill upon this woman. I pray that she decides to turn right in front of a speeding bus [I realize that this would further delay traffic, but it would be damned funny]. I yearn for her to be audited by the IRS. And I hope her children have incurable B.O.

I am actually tempted to push her car forward. But then I realize my POS probably couldn't do that. Not to mention I'd have to explain that to Character and Fitness. The bridge is still up so it is looking like I'll be here until Tuesday. But then the light turns. No movement, for a second, but then she pulls forward. And turns left onto the empty cross street. The opening is there. I floor it. I love turning at 40 miles an hour with my bare tires gripping the road with a tenacious screech. I pass her in the far lane. The light ahead is red. I slow down waiting for her to pull along side.

She finally does.

When she slides into position, I decide to act as Jesus would have have acted and turn the other cheek: She turns to see my Christian smile with a one-fingered message.