Reading the tea leaves on the road

Dear President Trump,

There wasn’t a ton of traffic on the way to work this morning, but there was enough to require everyone stay on their toes. One of my things is that I’ve figured out what I think is the best sequence of lane changes to get to work efficiently (barring a stall or accident in one of the lanes). Thus, I’m not exactly at my most flexible when I’m in commute-mode. When traffic is actually able to move there is almost always one car that is in a big, big hurry, intent on moving from one lane to another to try to gain an advantage and this morning I had that car whizzing in and out of traffic around me. No signaling, just abrupt lane changes in and out of tiny spaces. We weren’t going that fast so it wasn’t scary, but he was asking for trouble. Then when I was off the freeway I had two near misses by the VA when people insisted on turning into oncoming traffic (i.e., me). Again no one was going all that fast so they were no-harm-no-foul situations, but not a great way to start the day.

The trip home was similarly fraught starting out with a motorcyclist speeding by on my left in my lane as I was trying to merge left onto the freeway. He really startled me. I had to call on my strategies for calming myself down so I wouldn’t stoke my upset. The final drive home thing was having an older man, probably around 75, pull in behind me on the freeway exit. He was following kind of close and when I glanced back I noticed he was looking down, like he was texting. He followed me off the freeway and took the same path to one of the main arterials and every time we were stopped or going slowly and I did a quick rearview mirror check, he was intently looking down into his lap, presumably texting. Sigh.

I know this letter isn’t exactly talking about big political or emotional issues, but I do think the degree of incivility and distraction that is showing up on the road is indicative of the dis-ease and tension so many of us are feeling. Again, it would be lazy and incorrect to blame all this on you, much as I’d like to. I certainly don’t think you and all your drama are helping, but you too, are just a symptom of our collective larger issues. I sure hope we are able to right ourselves soon. This mess is exhausting.

May we be safe when we venture out.
May we be happy to signal our intentions when we are out and about.
May we keep to healthy speeds and practices on the road.
May we make peace with our new, more crowded and anxious, normal.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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