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April 27th, 2004

Orlando and South Florida driving:

First, just to clarify again about my little Florida Turnpike story: as the following rant will show, I'm used to sitting in South Florida (and Orlando) traffic. I'm used to shrieking at the Palmetto Expressway, the most dangerous and slow road in South Florida, and announcing to bosses that I will not drive on the Palmetto during certain hours no matter how badly I seem to be needed in the Kendall area. (The way I look at it, nobody in Kendall needs me that badly, and unless I suddenly become a medical doctor, which is highly unlikely, nobody in Kendall will ever need me that badly. And even then I would like to note that Kendall has excellent hospitals and people should use those. But we digress.)

No, my specific problem with Sunday's Turnpike incident was not that this was bad traffic, but that this was people literally STOPPED ON THE ROAD for an hour to the point where we were getting out of our cars, shaking hands, chatting, calling people we hadn't known for years, and, in one case, yo-yoing -- in a spot less than a half mile from the Sunrise Boulevard exit. I could have walked there and back, and there and back again, in the time that we just sat there.

Traffic is another issue entirely. Here is what I hate about traffic in South Florida:

1) I-95.

2) Lincoln Continentals, and anybody in a Lincoln Continental, and anybody in a large car under the mistaken belief that he or she is in a Lincoln Continental. It is possible that in your area, Lincoln Continentals mean something entirely different, but in South Florida, these cars are consistently driven by people who 1) are blind and 2) don't really care that they are blind and 3) wouldn't bother to look even if they could see and 4) are determined to plow into whatever lane they are currently interested in plowing into, regardless of whether or not your little Honda happens to be in that little lane, because, of course, since you are in a little Honda, you are clearly of No Significance Whatsoever and Should Yield to the Important Person.

3) I-95

4) Everybody from the province of Quebec, although I note thankfully that tourist season is mostly over.

5) I-95

6) The freaking way that EVERYBODY SLOWS DOWN AROUND THE GRIFFIN ROAD EXIT OFF OF I-95 FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Unless perhaps they are shocked that nobody is getting on or off Griffin Road and are slowing down to figure out why, which is STILL NO REASON TO SLOW DOWN BY GRIFFIN ROAD.

In fact, people were slowing down by Griffin Road at 2 in the morning last night, despite the fact that I-95 was almost empty, NOBODY WAS GETTING ON OR OFF GRIFFIN, and Griffin is a very boring exit. (My apologies to Griffin Road, but, you know, really.)

7) I-95.

8) The way people slow down around Stirling Road just because people are getting off and on there. Now, I can understand the right lanes taking an interest in this, but why are the passing lanes getting involved? Me, I'm willing to let everybody get off and on Stirling without getting overly excited about this.

9) I-95.

10) The Golden Glades Interchange, and I really don't think I need to explain this.

11) The Palmetto Expressway. (Ha. You thought I was going to say I-95 again, didn't you?)

12) The way the traffic lights have been programmed, or rather, not programmed, on University just south of 595, so that people are stiing and looking hopefully at a green light, but still unable to move forward because there are cars sitting at the intersection because the light is still red at the next intersection. While we are on this subject, a further annoyance: University has far more cars trying to go north and south on it than cars trying to cross it, and the traffic lights should be set up to reflect this.

13) The Miami Dolphins. (Well, ok, no, this really has nothing to do with traffic most of the time, but it's a matter of principle.)

14) The ongoing Pit of Despair that is Trying to Get Through Delray Beach on Any Working Road whatsoever. Thrilling though it was to careen through what is supposedly a highway in Delray Beach and is really more of a training ground for an extremely aggressive Mario Andretti prototype who also wants to have his car bump up and down a lot, the thrill, folks, has worn off, and a decided hatred for Delray has settled in.

15) SUVs. Yes, folks, I'm aware that your car is Bigger than Mine, and Your Car Has a Better Sound System Than Mine, and that you would like to pass me on the road. I accept this. So why can't you accept the simple fact that leaping in front of me with inches to spare is not really the best way to keep my blood pressure under control?

16) The sudden insane urge felt by many South Florida drivers, particularly those in SUV's, to leap across four lanes of traffic, either incredibly rapidly (whee!) or, more excitingly yet, incredibly slowly leading to all kinds of exciting noises coming from brakes that are really not designed for this sort of behavior. You can always get off at the next exit, folks! In fact, if you miss Stirling Road, I can almost guarantee you that you won't have a lot of competition when you're getting off at Griffin!

17) Tourists.

Which leads us to

THINGS I HATE ABOUT ORLANDO DRIVING:

1) Tourists.

2) Fireworks going off because I want to look at them and not have to watch out for --

3) Tourists who see ET, or Mickey, or Buzz Lightyear, or indeed anything, and go -- LOOK AT MICKEY instead of LOOK AT ROAD leading to all kinds of lane weaving and other excitement.

4) The entire area near downtown Orlando, which has a startling and annoying resemblance to driving through Delray.

5) Tourists.

Have consistency in your hatreds, my friends.

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