Friday, September 12, 2008

My impatience, your impatience

On the ride to work this morning, I let my impatience overwhelm my better judgment and get me into a tight spot. This time, it had no bad consequences. I decided, though, that I need to do better.

My route to work includes Muhammad Ali Boulevard, which travels one-way westbound. East of Preston Street, it has parallel parking on the right-hand side. At Preston Street, the parking lane ends and the right-hand lane becomes a freeway entrance ramp. I ride in the right-hand through lane, avoiding the parking/right turn lane. 

This morning, a queue of cars waited in front of me as I approached Preston Street. From experience, I know that most of the cars in that lane will cross the intersection and merge right onto the highway ramp. I saw the first few cars in my lane move toward the right once the light turned green and they started forward. The cars were moving at perhaps 10 mph due to traffic congestion. I made the poor choice of moving left to go around the car in front of me, assuming that it would merge right. When the car continued straight, I was stuck between two lanes of traffic. I slowed and dropped back behind the car, getting back into proper lane position. We both got stopped at the next traffic signal. Even if the car had merged right, I would not have saved any time by passing it as I tried to do.

I should have accepted the minor delay that often goes with riding in congested traffic and not tried to cheat the Devil to save a few seconds. My impatient behavior is exactly like the motorist behavior that I encounter most every day and that drives me crazy. This afternoon, a driver passed me too closely only to stop immediately in front of me at the next light. His destination was two blocks away, and he would have lost no more than 2 seconds by waiting behind me. As with my impatient maneuver a few hours earlier, his unsafe passing did not cause a crash. We both got away with it, this time. We also both made the roads a bit more tense and dangerous in exchange for an imaginary gain.

Traffic laws and law enforcement will never cause patience and courtesy. We need to cultivate those voluntarily. Now that I have seen my own impatience in action, I choose to do better.

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