Posted by: drdata921 | June 21, 2013

1000 Mario Andretti’s: Meet My Rush Hour Community

I am going to diverge a bit from my normal, informative retirement topics and talk about something that I will definitely not miss when I retire: the rush-hour commute. Rush-hour is stressful, so I have resorted to humor to try to lower my blood pressure out on the road. See if you recognize any of my “friends” below or perhaps see if you recognize yourself.

For years I have had the opportunity to commute in the not so wonderful, but definitely wacky world of rush-hour traffic. Want to know what a person is really like? Watch them behind the wheel of a car as their normally hidden psychopathologies emerge like Dracula from a coffin.

People who work in marketing use a concept called market segmentation to understand consumers. Segmentation is based on the observation that while people are different, they can be grouped based on underlying similarities. One evening during a particularly grueling commute, it occurred to me that I could create my own segmentation of the drivers around me. See if you recognize these people and their contribution to your rush-hour stress (CRHS).

MEET MY “FREEWAY FRIENDS”

Mario Weaver
These drivers are young, aggressive, and generally male. Mr. Weaver drives at least 20 miles per hour faster than anyone else on the road. These are the true Formula One drivers on the freeway weaving in and out of traffic like Mario Andretti, the famous race car driver. They get their name because on any stretch of highway, they weaver around the traffic and spend time in every single lane. Just say a cheery “good morning Mr. Weaver” as they wiz and weave past you. CRHS: Moderate because you never know when they will misjudge and cause an accident.

Fastlane Freddie
These people thrive on the excitement of the fast-lane. The fast-lane is about speed and risk and the speed limit has little relevance. If you get in front of one of these people and are not going fast enough, defined as virtually any speed you might be going, you should move over or be tailgated into submission. Women are a little more courteous about it than men, but both men and women are included. CRHS: High if you live in the fast-lane, but low for everyone else.

Roger Roadrage
Maybe his behavior is sparked by a personality quirk, or a bad day at work or perhaps a spat with a spouse. But, these drivers are hostile, aggressive, and intensely discourteous. Try to change lanes in front of Roger and he will attempt to cut you off. Make the lane change anyway then the fireworks really begin. They are poised to strike viper-quick with horn-honking, extremely dangerous tailgating and other driving maneuvers, and hand-gestures that I will leave for you to envision. Roger Roadrage sees conspiracy in almost every other driver and is ready to right every affront, real or imagined. CRHS: Very high on those rare occasions.

Sally Slowmo
Sally is the safest of drivers, prudently driving ten miles per hour below the posted speed limit. She is rarely in the fast-lane, but expect her to be travelling the speed limit when she is. I think you can anticipate the reaction of Fastlane Freddie and Roger Roadrage when they are behind her. Sally is very easy to identify. Just look at the car at the head of a slow moving line on the freeway. She is the person who leads other people to do unsafe maneuvers to get around her so she causes a disproportionate number of accidents, but HER driving record is pristine. CRHS: Not stressful, just annoying.

Conrad Convoy
Hail to the truckers on the road. This is a relatively safe group of drivers, but I get nervous as I pass an 18-wheeler. They claim that they can’t see other drivers around them although they have a million mirrors and if they come over into your lane, you have an immediate problem. Even Roger Roadrage is smart enough to avoid a fight with Conrad Convoy. But, get several Conrads on the road at rush-hour and they will spread out laterally across the lanes slowing everyone down. Yes, sometimes they’ve “got themselves a convoy!” CRHS: Generally low.

Don Cruise
OK, this is me making fun of myself. I used to be Fastlane Freddie, but I have toned down with age. I now get onto the freeway and kick in the cruise control. The trick to this in rush-hour traffic is to be going a couple of miles per hour slower than other cars in your lane. If I have to punch out of cruise control because the car in front me can’t maintain speed, I am annoyed. But, generally this has been my coping strategy for reducing my stress-level during a commute and it seems to be working. CRHS: Don’t know and don’t care.

You see, I have come to understand that a lot of the stress during a rush-hour commute is self-inflicted. Travel in the fast-lane and you are asking for stress. Weave in and out of traffic and you have to be extra vigilant or you crash. Sally Slowmo has a stress-free commute because she is clueless. Fastlane Freddie and Roger Roadrage are all about conflict and cause stress in themselves and other. So to reduce the stress of your rush-hour commute be an observer, not an active participant in the antics of the other drivers. Add some fun to your next commute by seeing how many of our characters you can identify among the other drivers around you.

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Responses

  1. My husband commutes on city streets, and his nemesis is the ‘I’m pretending I’m Lance Armstrong’ bicycle rider. They can be so unpredictable… Coming up on the left side of the car, riding in the middle of the road etc.

    • My normal commute is 25 miles on a freeway. So, I am able to avoid the surface streets. I am not sure if that is better or worse than Lance Armstrong wannabes. However, as Fred Rogers would have said, these are the people in my neighborhood. Hang in there – retirement is coming = no more commutes. No more Lance Armstrong wannabes, no more Fastlane Freddies, and no more Roger Roadrages. Will any of use miss it?


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