Monday, February 12, 2007

Road Monkeys

Not to get too philosophical about traffic but sometimes you have to wonder what motivates people to behave the way they do on the road. Today I was in line to turn on to Crowchild Trail, the freeway that takes me to work. The weather was horrible and the traffic volume was turned way up. (Did you like that one?) I couldn't help but feel like I was in some sociological experiment when I watched several cars bypass the very long line and cut in just in time to make the turn. The same turn that I was going to be making, oh, about 10 minutes after them because I am nice. My first instinct was of course to think, "What bastards! They're cheating! Here we are, all waiting in line doing the right thing and these jerks are whizzing past me, signaling their obvious disregard for every other person left in their trail." These people are the people who would screw over their own mother in the old prisoner dilemma. The alpha male who eats its competition. The ones who always end up on the top of the food chain...

"Wait a damn minute!" In the game of life these guys win! Which made me start to wonder why I wait in line. What keeps me from doing the same thing? What is it about 90% of the population that makes us angry enough to flip the bird to these guys but not brazen enough to follow? To sit at a red light on a dark and empty highway for 5 minutes? What externally imposed social conditioning has taught me that these people are bad and that by sitting there, absently waiting for my turn, I am morally superior? It's nuts.

And for a fleeting instant, as a big black, fuel-guzzling Avalanche flew past me I felt envy. Not disgust or disdain but a sense of awe. Inspired by the sheer ignorance and blatant disregard for others. Impressed by the ability to scratch, claw and kick their way to the top of the social heap.

And as me and all the other mindless drones united in our efforts to refuse him entry and I drove past the man in the Avalanche, waving his fists at us as we sputtered and puttered by in a single chain of moving resistance. I smiled. Because sometimes the little guy does win.

1 comment:

Craig Knox said...

I totally love this post. I often wonder the same thing and occasionally I'll be an ass just to make sure I can be. In the end though, it just never feels right.