Friday. 5:15 pm. Rush hour in Baltimore. Three blocks from the Inner Harbor and traffic is at a complete standstill. This is the very definition of gridlock. Bad drivers abound. Most have even given up honking. What is the point? Lights turn from green to red and back to green with no movement whatsoever. To make matters worse, the rain pours down. Not just a light drizzle but the kind that requires the wipers to do a spastic frenzied dance across the windshield.
Even the traffic cops have thrown in the towel. They’ve all fled their posts. Not a whistle blaring, not a finger pointing and not a single flag being waved to provide even a smidgen of guidance. I suspect the weather is to blame for their absence, though it is entirely possible that maybe, just maybe, it’s just because it’s Friday and there are better places to be. Perhaps Natty Boh’s to be drunk while sitting at the bar in dry clothes. With their departure, there is not a single voice of reason within this storm.
This leaves the heart of the city unprotected from the swarms of commuters trying to get every which way. Northbound citizens must first make their way east down Pratt Street toward I-83 while those who live in the south move in opposition heading for the dreaded I-695 beltway. Others try moving across town using their own perceived shortcuts but instead add to the web of confusion.
Left Lane Must Turn Left.
No Turn on Red.
Do Not Block Intersection.
No matter what direction you look, there are signs to provide assistance to end the confusion. Signs in such plain English that anyone, even a bad driver, can understand. Bonus symbols make it so that even the worst driver should be able to navigate the intersections. In addition, urban planners have done their best to create a free flow of traffic by timing lights and setting up special lanes of traffic across the city. Really, this is all futile. It seems no amount of urban planning can create order from this chaos.
Not tonight anyway.
Because tonight, there is one variable the planners can do nothing about.
The box blocker. The dreaded box blocker. The obnoxious box blocker.
That selfish individual who is more important than the carefully designed patterns laid forth before them by people paid to make such patterns. That selfish individual who says lights be damned, tonight my destination is infinitely more important than where you are going. So you are just going to have to wait. Wait for me.
Me. Me. Me.
Screw you selfish box blocker.
This is why I never drive.