Ink Out Loud: It needn't be a highway to hell
It is likely that the biggest challenge of living in the Portland metro area is the traffic. It is a test of patience and character, at the very least. This is a great place to live and it draws slews of new residents every day.
The following are thoughts, stories and perhaps suggestions while driving in this bustling region.
We all belong
I was born in Portland and I am a graduate of Beaverton High School. I've also lived numerous other places. I cringe when I hear people saying that too many people are moving here and "they should just go back to where they came from." It smacks of telling immigrants to "go back to their own country."
We are all human beings trying to get somewhere - to work, home, grocery store, pick up children, see an ill friend, etc.
If the traffic is a source of tremendous stress, I suggest trying public transportation or perhaps even moving to a more rural area with less congestion. The truth is, complaining about traffic will do nothing to alleviate it.
Practice what you preach
Years ago, my friend Brandy was stunned when her pastor cut her off on the road. It made her heart sink, she told me. She thought so much of him and lived by the words in his sermons each week.
Never put anyone on a pedestal — they can only look down on you.
It bothered her so much that she called him out on it.
"Hey," she said to him on a Sunday, "I was driving and you cut me off. But what's worse is you have a bumper sticker from our church on your car. You're making us all look bad."
He took heed. He hung his head down and apologized, not just to Brandy, but to the whole congregation. He said he never realized that he was not only being hypocritical, but he was also shaming his church while attempting to advertise it for good.
So, my memory of that incident spurred me to take note of people who are driving without consideration of others.
"Well, I'll never do business with them," I say to myself when I watch a company-owned vehicle weave in and out of traffic, run red lights and basically display dangerous and inconsiderate behavior.
I also make note of bumper stickers. I saw the driver of an energy-saving car wearing a "coexist" sticker stop in the middle of an exit during rush hour traffic and back up until she could illegally cross the merge lane. Maybe she decided she took the wrong exit.
People were honking and yelling. She laughed.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
The good are the people who allow others to merge safely, instead of trying to nudge them out. Everybody will get to their destinations at about the same time. They will all get there quicker with a little cooperation and graciousness.
The bad are the red light runners. I see a minimum of five every day. Recently, it was a city bus careening through a solid red light, causing a driver who appeared to be his 90s to slam on his brakes and grab his wife's shoulder so she didn't hit her head on the windshield.
The ugly are the folks who take it a step further and engage in road rage that sometimes results in assaults, deaths and arrests, not to mention putting other drivers at risk.
Yes, the traffic is treacherous here. It can be frustrating. Keep your cool.
I have wracked my brain to figure this one out — with all the bells and whistles that new cars boast — what with the back-up cameras, heated seats, USB stations, and even TVs — why no turn signals?
I am being facetious of course, but folks should probably use those turn signals and even turn them off after the turn has been executed.
Do I see a pattern?
I am wondering if there is a certain personality type or entitled demographic that purchase a particular Bavarian Motor car. In my experience, the most inconsiderate drivers on the road have that blue-and-white logo on their vehicles — not just the sports cars, but SUVs and economy models.
Golden Rule should also rule the road
When I was 19, I worked with a woman named Jane who was in her 20s. She was in the throes of a divorce and had two small children. Her only living relative was her mother. One day at work, she received a call from the hospital that her mother died suddenly from a brain aneurysm.
Jane didn't tell anybody what happened. She just said she had a family emergency and had to go to the hospital.
Tears were pouring down her face in buckets and she started to go into a bit of shock while at a stop sign. Apparently she sat there for about 30 seconds. Then she heard a driver honk and scream, "What the hell is wrong with you, lady? You stupid (expletive). Learn how to drive or get off the road."
He peeled out to go around her, crossing the double yellow line, and then he flipped her off.
Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. There are so many people on the road and it's fathomable that someone is going through a tough time. Be kind. Think before lashing out at a stranger.
If you live in the Portland metro area, you will experience traffic issues regularly.
Think about listening to a book on CD that you've been wanting to read. Maybe even get a language program and learn another language while you're in traffic.
Inhale. Exhale. Exercise patience.
As the very wise newsman Dan Rather once said, "Americans will put up with anything, provided it doesn't block traffic."