Out on Route 1: The Charge of the Light Brigade

April 9, 2013

You may have noticed traffic is starting to increase on the weekends. Sometimes Route 1 looks like a major sporting event such as the World Series or the Super Bowl has just let out; except the fact that no one is wearing a block of cheese on their head, you could hardly tell the difference. In fact, some drivers think they actually are in a parking lot, as they have stopped dead in their lane, leading other drivers to help with such well-wishing words as “Go back to…” well, you get the idea. I don’t know what eventually happens to these drivers frozen in time, but I think DelDOT picks them up and deposits them as part of the beach replenishment project. I mean I’m just guessing, but I hear things.

Not since the Fidel Castro School of Driving closed have I seen such erratic maneuvers. Well, maybe if you are taking a cab in New York City, where there are still remnants of stuff they’ve run over stuck in the grille. Hey, when a passenger says step on it and hands over a $20 bill, all’s fair in love, war and ramming speeds.

The last time I took a taxi in a major city, the driver seemed to know a lot about the psychology of other drivers on the road, yelling about their origins and informing them about how tough their toenails would become. It was a great civic lesson, and by the time I landed at the curb, I actually had picked up enough of another language to apply for a teaching position at a major university.

I think my pet peeve with traffic and those on the road is when the light turns green and the person driving the car in front of you doesn’t move. If you blow your horn as a reminder that the light is green, for some reason that driver takes it personally, even though he is on the phone conducting important business, such as pleading with his bookie or calculating an intricate grid on a Sudoku puzzle. It’s like being at a family reunion and you see someone you haven’t spoken to in 20 years over a jar of mustard that went missing. You see that person and it provokes a rage in you, but you aren’t sure why. It is just there.

Now if you wait at the light behind that person, hoping they will look, and you are right to have that patience, the driver will only look up at the light a second before it turns red again, leaving you as the only fool sitting through another change. I think it is in the Bill of Rights or some such document that you can only look up at the last second.

You have to be careful on Route 1, especially if you haven’t taken your medication, but besides that, there a great many other vehicles riding along the far lanes, like bikes, scooters, buses and the occasional burro. And sometimes they haven’t taken their medication either. So what we have here is the Charge of the Light Brigade, to the left of you, to the right of you and over the median sometimes.

And there is that caravan coming off the ferry now on the weekends. Folks are starting to move their summer things down to the beach. I followed behind a car that had a mattress strapped to its roof. It wasn’t so much strapped to the roof, but held on by a thread of dental floss. The mattress had come loose and was flapping up and down like Mick Jagger’s tongue. You couldn’t see around it, over it or under it. And so it goes.

From now on, Mondays are going to look pretty good.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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