As recent as a couple of years ago travelling on Layhill Road toward Norwood Road was a reasonably pleasant driving experience. Layhill was a two lane country road that was criss-crossed with any number of side streets, none of which posed any particular problems from a traffic point of view. Driving north you soon passed several holes on the front nine of the Northwest Golf Course which present a beautiful manicured view of the fairways, greens and several tee boxes. After passing the intersection of Norbeck Road you were pretty much in the country passing the historic Red Door country store, an old historic mansion which is now a headquarters building for the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission, and the beginning point for a wonderful little jaunt on the Underground Railroad trail of civil war origin. All those beautiful places remain but two changes in the road alignments have changed the pleasant, tranquil drive into one of competition, driver’s more base tendencies and well, just plain not fun to drive anymore. The name of the game has changed. It’s now “beat your neighbor”.
At two different intersections along the way the Maryland Highway Administration put in extra lanes making the drive a “run for the money”. The first extra lane occurs just prior to coming to the new Inter-County Connector. The extra lane is for turning West on the connector but has become a “jump the queue” lane by drivers who are too impatient to wait in line at the light and who figure their time is more important than anyone else’s. What these impatient, grab it all, gun and run drivers are doing is illegal but that doesn’t stop them. At the next major intersection of Layhill and Norbeck an “extra” lane has been added to the stoplight. This one is legal but ill advised. Cars wait in line for their turn at a long light only to have the speedareesters blow by in the extra lane or pull up and again jump the queue just to get ahead of everyone who has patiently waited. Of course in both cases the “extra lane” runs out and merges into the regular lane about 25 yards down the road.
I fight my own baser instincts when these drivers take me on. I have a big Hemi under the hood of my Chrysler Aspen SUV and I can put the pedal to the medal too and make it a spin off in order to keep my place in line. I don’t like myself when I do that. I don’t like the feeling of resorting to the lowest common denominator among drivers and even when I do squeeze the eager beavers out I don’t like the feeling. I like to place the blame on the Highway engineers and their silly extra traffic lanes. I watch the dynamic every day, twice a day in both locations. People who are patient, wait their turn in the through lane are flustered, angry and sometimes just downright rebellious about letting the lane jumpers ram in front of them. Sometimes I do the right thing and let it happen, sometimes I just can’t resist the devil and I gun and run so the jumper can’t jump in front of me.
Moral choices come hard sometimes. Sometimes even though we know what is the “right” thing to do we don’t want to do it. Sometimes letting others take advantage of us just gets to us and we fight off the dogs. I always feel like a “sucker” when I let the lane jumpers have their way with me, especially because I have the wheels to blow them off the track but then when I do punch the pedal to the floor I feel worse. Sometimes doing right just feels better doesn’t it? Notice the question mark at the end of the sentence. Sometimes we have to work at not letting others drag us in the wrong direction too. What do you think?