Complaining about traffic is usually about as effective as complaining about the weather. It is so far out of our hands that I don't know why we would waste our own time with it, much less others. But I have to get something off my chest today.
About once every six to eight weeks a small group of people in my business in Seattle get together for dinner. It's nice. There is lots of industry gossip, observations, and exchanging of ideas in a friendly, non-competitive manner. Smart, creative people whose company I really enjoy.
Yesterday was the latest meeting and we agreed on a restaurant for dinner in Issaquah, a Seattle suburb on Lake Washington, about 15 miles east of the city. (Two unrelated notes: Issaquah comes from the Indian word for snake and the town has become slightly famous in the last few years due to spawning the rock band Modest Mouse.)
I am pretty diligent about being on time so I left with plenty of time to get there, even allowing for rush hour traffic. When I merged from Route 518 onto the 405 I was dismayed to see nothing but tail lights. I mean, it was a parking lot, if cars in a parking lot were actually moving, albeit at only about ten miles per hour.
Speed limit 55, actual speed 10.
For twenty solid minutes. Moving but very slow. 20 minutes at 10 mph means less than five miles in that time on the 405. Eventually I saw the cars ahead of me starting to break away from the pack but I couldn't see why. In another minute I finally was in position to be able to see what had caused the quagmire. I saw something so shocking, so unusual, so mind bending that I now understood why the other drivers had not been able to zip on by. There was ... wait for it .... a car parked on the shoulder of the highway.
Not a police car with a radar gun showing out of the window.
Not an ambulance loading Britney Spears in on a gurney.
Not a fire truck hosing down a fiery, crashed alien spacecraft.
Not a vehicle with a tire being changed.
Not even a vehicle with its hazard lights on.
Not a vehicle even with a person in it. And it was on a well-lit shoulder, safely parked several feet off the lanes of travel.
Just a car. Much Like the ones driver after driver was pedaling at 10 miles per hour to have a look and then immediately flooring it up to 60 as they passed it.
There was nothing in the road. There was no need for a backup. I understand seeing the whole road and defensively driving and anticipating potential danger but if you can not effectively evaluate a situation like this one as you pass by without having to practically stop on the highway then you should not be driving on them. Word is bond.