What’s Entertainment

Dear J-

While Caltrans is working on the freeway (they’re widening I-5 where it passes over I-805) they have K-rails put up as a barrier in the center divider, squeezing the shoulder down from the typical eight feet to eight inches or less. I love it. People who used to blow by you in the left (number one) lane are now nervous about their own control and no longer hover with impunity on the left edge of that lane, running nervously somewhere in the middle and trying to make sure they don’t scrape off their rear-view mirror. I suppose they feel squeezed between the people traveling in the number two lane and the K-rails: the gap looks impossibly narrow even though the lanes are twelve feet wide and the typical car is six feet wide or so: plenty of wiggle room on either side.

You take someone and squeeze them, they get uncomfortable and rightly so. Accusatory questions will garner hostile, defensive answers. There are a lot of competititve, antagonistic relationships and interactions we could engage in. If I ride on the left edge of the number two lane I’m daring the guy in number one to pass: maybe you can, maybe you can’t, but the best you can hope is to feel really awkward and uncomfortable. That’s a big burden to put on someone you probably don’t know and whose only sin is wanting to go faster than you. Yesterday morning I engaged in a stoplight derby with an anonymous silver Honda Civic: you know how you’ll pull up to a red light. And there’s someone in the next lane you know is going to jackrabbit off just so they can cut you off? I followed him onto the freeway and at one point nearly kissed bumpers on the on-ramp. Just because I could, why do you ask?

I reasoned that hey, it’s either him or me, and why should I make his life easier? If you arrive at the conclusion that you’re there to make someone else’s life miserable — rephrase that, if what you do increases someone’s misery quotient, maybe you need to rethink your choices. I’m all for entertainment and adventure but seriously, at the expense of others? There are a lot of different ways to get cheap thrills without resorting to the kind of anonymous trolling that would earn you a bulletin board ban online or even arrested should someone see what you’re doing. Keep yourself honest out there and make up an amusing story for yourself: look, he’s rushing off to the rutabaga festival; you know how quickly fresh rutabagas go bad. And his pet wildebeest has been craving rutabagas all summer, so you know that he needs them. Now that’s entertainment.



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