I’ve mentioned our roundabouts before. I’ve also mentioned that I hate them. They are filters for stupidity and rude driving – not filtering out, but funneling it down to its purest, most concentrated form. No one knows how to drive in them, no one pays attention to the signs that inform them how to do so. The result is a mass of confusion around rush hour. Today was no different, and no day ever is.
To try and make some sense of this, let me tell you how they operate. The roundabouts themselves have two lanes in them – an inner and an outer lane. The inner lane is the one that goes fully around the roundabout, so, say you decide you want to turn around, you stay in the inner lane, make a nearly complete circle, and you’re heading the opposite direction. The outer lane takes you to the exit points. Simple enough. Now, when the roundabout heads back into the straight roadway, only the inner lane can keep going in the roundabout – seems logical, right? You would be surprised, then, if you were to see how many people could not grasp this concept: inner, around; outer: exits. I see it every day.
And when approaching the main roadway, which, in the picture above, goes left to right, both lanes feed into this. This is important. That logic thing I mentioned above plays into this – you know, how the outer lane exits and all. The inner lane can go straight on through, too. The brilliant designers of these roundabouts, however, cleverly added in some lane stripes making it okay for the outer lane to continue around even while the inner lane goes straight. You can imagine the confusion this causes. I see it every day.
Now, when approaching the portion of the roadway to the immediate left of the roundabout, the roadway goes from the two lanes that feed it from the roundabout down to one lane in a few hundred feet. Most people are surprisingly good about this, using the logic of a zipper, which is how merging lanes are supposed to work – one car goes, then one car merges, another car goes, another merges, and on and on. It’s slow, because there are hundreds and hundreds of cars passing through this area in a very short amount of time, but it does actually work. Inefficient, but passable, I guess.
When it doesn’t work is what happened today, when I began my merge from the former outer lane, and some old-ass bastard decided it wasn’t fair that I got to “cut” in front of him – because, you know, if I was behind him rather than in front, he’d get to whatever buffet he was going to 8/100 of a second faster and be able to score a better biscuit.
As the lanes merge, there’s railing at right and oncoming traffic at left, and very little room to do anything else. In other words, there is no option but to merge. This guy, however, felt otherwise, and rode up on the bumper of the car in front of me, not more than one foot from it, in fact, honking his horn at me all the while. What, exactly, am I to do here? If I slam on my brakes, I am that guy stuck on the side of the road that no one lets in. We’ve all seen ’em, those guys that hesitate while merging onto a busy highway and wind up crawling along the shoulder hoping that, somehow, someone will slow down so they can hop in to the flow of traffic.
Eventually, he gave in and let me merge, as he should have in the first place, probably realizing that the time he loses behind me might cost him the best biscuit, but it lets the butter thaw out that much more. Just the same, I could not resist one immature, irresponsible response to his probably medication-fueled stupidity. I rolled my window down, extended my arm, and popped up my middle finger. Message sent, message assumed received. And now back to being a mature adult.