It’s high summer – time for the infernal invasion

July 28, 2019

Right about now, you can’t even mention the word “traffic” without some listener getting a facial tic that explodes into a full-blown aneurysm. Anyone who was out in the battlefield of Route 1 this past weekend has suffered some sort of post-traumatic effect from experiencing wall-to-wall gridlock. Folks who spent eight hours on their journey trapped in a car with small children who never stopped singing, “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” were especially hard hit. But the good news is their insurance covers all of the nausea and suicidal thoughts, and even gives them a free, all-expenses-paid weekend at the nearest psychiatric facility.

There seems to be a real edge to people this summer. This could be attributed to the fact that some drivers spent so much time in line waiting to get into Rehoboth, their medication stopped working. And from there they went to a really bad ‘tude, as they say.

You know things got ugly when drivers would rather keep going south on I-95 straight into the Gulf of Mexico before they would let someone into their lane. And those who had a death wish could always cruise the far-right bus/bike/turning lane, which by the end of the day looked like the 101 Freeway in L.A.

People’s hair started to fall out from all that twisting and pent-up anger when they didn’t get through that left-hand turn signal, mostly because the driver in front of them was too busy texting to look up and notice the light change.

Things were wedged under cars, possibly shopping carts, but drivers kept on going, afraid to even hit those brakes, which by now were reduced to nothing but a thin Brillo pad. And lots of food, such as pizza and beer, was still sitting on top of cars as drivers peeled out of the parking lots in a hurry to get in line and wait another four hours.

One of the biggest problems I have in traffic is my memory starts to fade after so many inches of stop-and-go traffic. If it wasn’t for the fact that I always carry my passport before I leave my driveway on the weekends, I wouldn’t remember my own identity.

You see, after being given nasty puppet fingers from other drivers, listening to horns knock my eardrums senseless and people yelling about hell freezing over, my brain quite naturally becomes defensive and begins a process much like cans of tuna on a grocery shelf with an expiration date of 1956. It slowly deteriorates and compensates by bulging in a large mass, so that I look like I’m carrying the head of an alien.

My brain begins to lack focus after looking at a boat being pulled on a trailer in front of me for the last five miles, especially if it’s named something unthinkable like Island Escape. I knew I was in trouble when I identified with a woman I saw walking around a fruit stand on Route 1 in her bathrobe and slippers. She probably started out in the middle of the night, or she may have just brought a change of clothes in her car.

A lot of people had to reinvent the wheel this weekend. Short cuts became long ways around. One lane became six cars trying to squeeze into an opening an inch wide. And a trip to the store for a quart of milk took so long, your children filed a missing person report.

But the amazing thing is that we all survived. Not only that, but the one group of folks who had no trouble getting somewhere on time were in the car that pulled up to your driveway with the House Guests From Hell. It’s a summer ritual.

  • 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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