This opinion article was contributed by Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
There is no doubt about it, traffic has gotten worse – much worse – both locally and regionally since I moved to the area in 1982. The freeways seem to be packed all the time. Logically that can’t happen unless the feeder routes are also packed and that can’t happen unless someone or something is on those roads. On occasion I am the someone on the road and my car is the something taking up the space.
I was stuck in what I call a mystery-jam the other day. A mystery-jam is a traffic jam that has no apparent reason. In some cases the legitimate cause, let’s say a fender-bender, is gone by the time you get there so you never see it. In other cases, it’s a function of the road design and limited capacity; when that happens mystery-jams repeatedly occur in the same place. There are a lot of those types going around.
As I was saying, I was stuck in a mystery-jam on 101 the other day followed by the long, slow, homebound leg on Route 25. I found myself thinking that all those other cars and trucks, especially that slow truck in front of me in the 14-mile no-passing zone, should not be there.
I needed to be there of course, my trip to a medical appointment was really important, but that guy in the Beemer next to me in the stop-and-go on the 101 was probably just showing off his fast car (we were both averaging about 3 miles per hour); besides he’s probably only lived in northern California for 30 years, I have lived here for 35 years and although that piece of freeway did not even exist back then, it’s mine by squatter’s rights.
Now the truck crawling along Route 25 was a worse case. On the curves I could see that there was nothing in front of it but empty road, but it was barely moving. I have no idea what it was hauling, but it should have had a lot less load or a much bigger tractor. For all I know it was delivering stuff to my favorite pizza place, bags of cement, garden tools or picking up kumquats. It doesn’t matter, it needed to get out of the way because I needed to get home.
Naturally, the other drivers were all thinking the exact same thing about me – ‘look at that geezer in the 18-year old Toyota, he’s probably just taking a joyride, why doesn’t he stay home?’ My advice is to just remember the clever observation, “You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.”