On the merge

Things I will never truly understand:

  1. How film cameras work.
  2. Why the other people in my house can’t put shoes back where they belong.
  3. Why people don’t merge when the gigantor digital sign spanning the interstate very clear says, “Left lane closed ahead ½ mile. Merge right.”

The first one is one I could probably watch a few YouTubes and get a better understanding, but I prefer to keep that a sorcerer’s secret. The second I’ve just resigned myself to, and will just keep randomly finding one shoe in a bathroom and its mate in the kitchen.

But the third one is truly a modern curiosity of human behavior. I most recently studied this behavior on my way home. There is a bridge near where I live that has been under repair for a while. Part of the bridge was shut down in 2018 for repairs, after discovering “extensive corrosion and degradation.” And I completely understand that traffic has to sometimes be slowed a bit for repairs and stuff, especially when the diagnosis makes it sounds like, you know, the bridge is about to collapse into the river below it.

The bridge reopened a short time after the closing. But ever since that closing, bridge work has been done off and on. Usually, the work is done on weekends, closing just a lane, to minimize impact. This decision was made to do it on weekends because I take that bridge to and from work every day, and they did not want to further inconvenience me. I assume.

I got to experience the weekend construction when I was heading home on a recent Sunday from an out-of-town trip. I had left on Saturday and saw the lane closure and the traffic clogged up on my way out. I said to myself, “I should make a mental note of that and not come back this way.” I then immediately purged that from my brain to maintain ample room in there for movie quotes and sports trivia, thus completely forgetting to take an alternative route on my return.

As I headed down the interstate, I saw the first sign pop up, informing me of the impending left lane closure and to merge to the right. My first reaction was to spend 8-10 seconds berating myself for not remembering to take a different route. (Fun fact: I have a dashcam in my car, and I am really split on whether or not I want to hear what it sounds like when Mike berates Mike on his poor route choices.)

After the berating, I dutifully got in the right lane, as the sign instructed. Half mile to the lane closure.

Some cars were still zooming past me in the left lane, but that was our first sign, so plenty of time for everyone to get in line.

Nope.

By the time the right lane was at a standstill, the left lane kept a buzzing. We inched toward another sign that told us of the lane closure again. I wish it had said, “Get in the right lane. We all have to wait in this stuff. Wait your turn, too.”

Every now and then, as I sat on the interstate waiting for cars to move, I would see a car whip out into the left lane and start darting up, passing the stopped cars. Clearly, those cars contained people far more important than the rest of us peasants. Also, side note: If you are driving a car with your business slapped on the side, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend you don’t drive like that.

A few cars were continuing to pull out when we were a mere 100 yards or so from the lane closure. I was really hoping all the cars in front of me would maintained bumper solidarity and not allow anyone who broke ranks that late in the game to merge. I am all for being kind and letting your fellow drivers merge. I am not for rewarding people who are straight up cutting in line. Imagine if you were in the queue line at Wendy’s and someone a few spots behind you just steps to the front and tries to ease in front of you.

So people, I ask you – please. For the sake of my sanity. When the signs says merge, just go ahead and merge. We are all going to have to sit in a line.You’re not less deserving of a wait than the rest of us. Just get in line. In fact, without the logjam at the lane closure, it will probably speed up everyone’s wait. It’s really a win-win. We can all get home sooner to take care of important tasks. Such as finding where the matching shoe to the one on the living room couch is.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at scmgibbons@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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