Traffic Congestion Improves Our Lives

Julius - Ashburn, Virginia
Entered on February 5, 2009

I believe in traffic. Yes, that’s right. Traffic. According to the Texas Transport Institute, I commute in America’s most congested area: Washington, D.C.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “Is he crazy? Traffic? Pollution! Crashes! Congestion!”

Yes, traffic has all those things. But since I started driving back in the sixties, we’ve done a pretty good job of improving the pollution and traffic safety. I’m not talking about them. I believe in the congestion.

We all agree our roads are congested. Traffic jams abound. Not surprisingly, the Texas Transportation Institute recently reported congestion is getting worse. Talk about stating the obvious! We spend a huge part of our lives in traffic. But so what?

In the old days, people spent their time driving ox carts or something. They probably found something to complain about, just as we complain about traffic. But we have it better than they do. You walk in the rain beside an ox cart, and those folks didn’t have radios.

Why do I believe in traffic? It helps me with the rest of my life. In many ways, traffic mirrors the rest of life. Mostly, we don’t drive aimlessly; we drive to reach a goal. Sometimes we make mistakes, or lose our way. Faced with a severe obstacle such as a freeway closure, we seek alternative ways to reach our goal. Or, we stubbornly stick with the plan. Other drivers sometimes help us; but other times, they cause problems.

Every time I’m a jerk in traffic, I feel guilty. I usually feel guilty the rest of the day. And every time I am the courteous guy, I reinforce behavior which helps us all get along in the world.

I regularly call the local traffic reporters. The morning reporter thinks I call her every day. She’s mistaken about that. When I was in the military, I learned you only use the radio when necessary. That’s right; your cell phone is a walkie-talkie. So I only call her when I can make a difference. I say something silly whenever I can. For instance, one day a truck dropped a load of magazines at the end of a freeway bridge. I said to her, “Oh good! We can do a little reading while we wait in traffic!”

“Enjoy your periodicals!” she responded.

It might not have been because of me, but for the rest of the morning, as those magazines created a thirteen mile backup, she worked the reading joke for all it was worth.

So I’ll continue looking forward to my commute. It’s quiet time, a time to reflect. I can act like a jerk, or do good deeds. Just like life.