Why You Give Me TMJ: Part Deux

Recently, Pittsburgh was named the city with the most courteous drivers in the country.  I don’t know who these reporters interviewed, or what routes they were driving, or at what time of day, but I nearly choked on my coffee when I heard this.

I’ve driven in other parts of the country, in both big cities and small towns, and I certainly couldn’t disagree more.  Atlanta is a mess pretty much 24 hours a day, and trying to merge for the first time in that city is enough to give you an 80 mph heart attack.  But you can merge there.  People seem to understand road signs a lot better in other cities than here in Pittsburgh.  They don’t slam on the breaks when approaching a tunnel (”OMG…. TUNNEL!  Must… slow… down…. Mountain might cave in on me!”), and they generally don’t stop at a yield sign–which, by the way, makes me absolutely nuts! If you were meant to stop there would be a STOP  sign!!  Even considering the size of places like Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City, the actual practice of driving in those places is far less frustrating than here in Pittsburgh.

The article talks about how Pittsburghers don’t talk or text while driving as much as folks in other cities.  It talks about how nice Pittsburghers are to let folks merge into lanes.  Pittsburghers don’t tailgate (no, we’re not talking before a sporting event here, though I bet we’d definitely rank in the top 3!), it says.  And Pittsburghers don’t “drive too fast…”

I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. 

Every day my experience in Pittsburgh rush hour traffic negates this study.  I see people screaming at each other, tailgating, horn blowing in anger, rude gestures not just lifted inside the car, but extended out the window for the entire line of traffic to see, and people in such a hurry to get wherever they’re going that they brazenly ignore traffic etiquette, laws, and road markings just to get one car length ahead.

I get road rage.  I can admit it.  And the blatant rudeness of people on the road can lead to some serious bouts of jaw clenching TMJ episodes.  See?  Road rage = TMJ.  I can’t tell you how often I have waited along the 10th street bypass to merge onto the Fort Pitt Bridge, in line like most other people, only to have some jerk fly past everyone in the other lane just to get to the part of the roadway where drivers have to let him in.  This seriously pisses me off.

I don’t let those people in.  I won’t.  No.  No, no.  You don’t get to just line jump like that.  What makes you think getting to your destination is so much more important than my desire to get to mine?  No.  I waited in line like everyone else; I followed the rules, and you do NOT get to just jump ahead.  It’s rude.  Your time is no more important than mine, and it’s insulting when people think this is appropriate driving behavior! And it happens every day!  I’ve been guilty of yelling at these rude people, and of laying my hand on the horn long enough for people to think it’s broken.  I’ve also been the recipient of quite a few angry shouts and horn blares because I refused to let these people cut in line. 

Look, I don’t care if your selfish tactics have now caused you to hold up traffic behind you.  I’m not letting you in.  You can receive the anger of dozens of cars behind you, all beeping and cursing you out because I would rather hear that noise for 10 minutes because I refused to let you sneak in in front of me, than allow you to slide in and metaphorically slap every person who does follow the rules in the face.  Including me.

So be forewarned.  If you’re one of these drivers, and you think you’re being shifty and slick by riding the burm to jump line, or riding along the side lane to the very last opportunity for you to sneak in, you had better hope I’m not the one who’s beside you.  Y’ain’t gettin’ in, sugar.  And if the people behind me want to let you be a big cheater and line jumper…. fine.  Just know that I’m silently judging you, and that I’m praying that every other driver behind me feels the same way and you sit there until you’re forced to continue on the wrong road and go 20 miles out of your way just because you’re self centered.  If I could summon police cars to pull you over, I would.  In a minute.

But for now, I’m left sitting in my car yelling compliments instead of expletives.  Think about that… “YOU HAVE VERY NICE TEETH!” or “YOUR JACKET IS VERY FLATTERING!!!”  Ridiculous, right?  Try it some time… it’ll make you laugh.  And in traffic, I need to laugh, otherwise my jaw will lock and I’ll be reduced to trying to melt you with my mind.  And we really don’t want that, now do we?

“Line jumping is cause for removal from the park!”


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