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Merging into today’s traffic
editor's notes

You know traffic must be awful when it gets into your dreams and sort of wanders around your slumber.

But so it goes. I, who make an almost daily commute of 50-something miles round trip, often on the interstate, had a nightmare the other night about traffic.

I dreamt I was trying to get off I-95 at the Highway 144 exit, only I was somewhere outside Pooler and couldn’t go anywhere, the line was so long. Then up pedaled a fellow in the breakdown lane. He was riding an adult tricycle and had turn signal levers sticking out of the sides of his head, like deer antlers.

He waved them at me and demanded I give him a cantaloupe or else I’d regret it. By the way, the levers stuck out the sides of his head, port and starboard. They did not protrude fore and aft. That would’ve been weird.

Anyhow, that was it. I never got off 95 and onto 144. Then I woke up.

I suspect there may be a point to all this. In short, traffic is a hazard to one’s health, and I mean that beyond the obvious, which is you take your life into your hands every time you get behind the wheel, what with all the maniacs running amok out there perfectly capable of running you over.

That knowledge of what we face is leaving mental skid marks on our collective psyche.

Especially those of us used to a time when traffic here was more laid back. Indeed, it used to be if we wanted to drive amongst 4.38 million idiots we could go to Atlanta, circle I-285 a few times to get our fill and then, if we survived, come back down I-16 and say we’re sure glad we don’t have to drive every day in that messed up mess up there.

But now that messed up mess is here.

It may not be of the same width and depth and breadth and dimension as it is up in Atlanta, which starts getting scary somewhere left of Macon, turns horrific around Forsyth and gets progressively awfuler as you get to the metro area, but pound for pound I’d stack stupid traffic in the Coastal Empire and South Carolina Lowcountry up against stupid traffic anywhere in the country, including Atlanta.

Fortunately, fixes are on the way. Most are, of course, 20 years too late and none, unfortunately, involve blowing up the bridge over the Savannah river to forestall migration, or at least building a couple of loop de loops at the Pooler Parkway exit to make said migration more entertaining to watch.

Instead, they’re going to put something called a turbine up at the I-16 interchange on 95. Which if it worked right should be something that sends yuppie Land Rover drivers whizzing off into the sky when they go through it, kind of like what used to happen with my Hot Wheels cars when I put new batteries in the supercharger or whatever it called itself way back in the day.

That would also be worth seeing. None of us will, however.

We’re either too scared to take our eyes off the road because of drivers checking Facebook or Instachatgramsnapper to see if Brittany really did post that about Rhett’s new girlfriend, Megan, who from behind does kind of resemble what happens if you put spandex on a blond manatee and send it to Kroger to get some chocolate milk and pork rinds, the hot kind, or else we’re those 30-something-year-old drivers checking Facebook and posting snarky bad thoughts about Megan while we sail up and down the interstate with the wind in our hair, bro country on the radio and raspberry in our vape oil because, hey, we’re cool and everybody else isn’t.

That’s why, to bring this full circle, I have decided the biggest threat to our way of life isn’t illegal immigrants, despite the protestations of those who don’t like Mexicans. It isn’t Russia or China. It’s not the Taliban or Isis. It’s not drug abuse or rampant commercialism or Facebook or that prat Steve Doocy.

It’s traffic.

It’s people who can’t merge onto an interstate. It’s tailgaters and drivers with headlights that scald your retinas. It’s slow pokes in the fast lane who will back up traffic for six miles because they might try to take a left in the next few weeks and want to be prepared. It’s people who don’t know a turn signal from quantum physics from a certain anatomical feature from a hole in the ground.

It’s having to wait five times to get through the light at 144 and 17 because you’re four miles away idling while your AC is on the blink and the guy beside you is listening to 2 Live Crew’s greatest hits, loud as he can.

It’s all the carbon monoxide we breath and all the carbon monoxide we spew because that’s how we roll.

Someday, maybe we’ll learn bigger isn’t always better and often less is really more.

Trouble is, by the time we figure all that out, you’ll probably be able to drive I-95 from Port Wentworth to Jacksonville and never leave the outlet mall.

If there’s a dark cloud to the silver lining in all that, my guess by then you’ll need a boat to get from here to anywhere. And the way it’s looking, you might have to watch out for polar bears, too.

Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News. He should have his own roads to drive on. Then his wife would ride with him.

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