One of the biggest transitions surrounding my move from the ‘burbs to the city (aside from paying rent) is the ugly commute I make to and from my job in Oak Brook each day. Every morning and evening, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic and become convinced that every driver around me should either not be operating a vehicle or enroll in an anger management program.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to avoid driving in or near Chicago between the hours of 7:00-9:00 a.m. or 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, allow me to enlighten you. The way I see it, there are three kinds of drivers during rush hour: the aggressive driver who’s always late, the passive driver who doesn’t mind long car rides and the oblivious driver who intends to make everyone aware that he or she is in no hurry whatsoever.
Aggressors will cut you off at any opportunity, inch up to the back of your bumper until you’re practically touching and occasionally become so outraged that they’re forced to illegally speed by traffic on the shoulder of the road. These are the ones who shamelessly avoid long lines and yell expletives at you out an open window. They’re scary. Watch out.
Passive drivers aren’t bothered by this. They’re happy to keep inching along until arriving at their destination, following traffic without any complaints. Sometimes they’re late, but that’s okay. Such is life.
But oblivious drivers take rush hour to a whole new level. For no reason whatsoever, they’ll keep anywhere between three and eight car lengths of space in front of them, holding up traffic behind them and allowing anyone and everyone to take advantage of the open space they’ve created. They’re a merging semi-truck’s dream and an aggressor’s worst nightmare. My advice? Never get behind one. Before you know it, you’ll be screaming out your window, too.
As hard as it is, I try to keep myself in high spirits, especially after a recent study linked long commutes to relationship problems. For now, you can catch me keeping a tight distance between the car in front of me on 290 West every morning, dreaming of the day when Chicago politicians will fully widen our major expressways to four lanes.