The Universal Notebook: Come on, Bub, move it!

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Are you as sick and tired as I am of all the road construction projects and resultant traffic tie-ups around greater Portland this summer?

You’re trying to get somewhere and all these other stupid motorists are in your way. What are they doing on your road anyway, right? Don’t they know you’ve got important things to do and you’re in a hurry? Come on, Bub! Move your motor-boating butt!

My lovely wife Carolyn, who is a calm and rational driver, believes that the recent epidemic of aggressive driving we have witnessed is yet another sign of the breakdown of civility in American society. She doesn’t approve of my cursing other drivers, honking, tailgating, and generally expressing my displeasure with the car. Still, I’m not as bad as a lot of you road-rage retreads.

Just this month I have observed:

• Three drivers run red lights in fits of pique. I’m not talking about racing to beat a yellow light. I’m talking about drivers who seemed to feel that they would have made it through the light if not for some knucklehead in front of them, so they pull out and gun it, running a light that has turned red before they reach the intersection.

• A woman in an SUV drive up and over a newly constructed median strip because it prevented her from taking a left.

• A whole line of drivers suddenly get fed up with traffic cones reducing a major artery to one lane and defiantly driving around the cones and down the blocked off lane.

• Several drivers making last-minute decisions to cut violently in front of other cars in order to exit the interstate.

• Several other drivers confused and unnerved by crazy new construction patterns just blindly stomping on the gas and charging ahead into the unknown.

• Two drivers go whizzing around a left turn right in front of oncoming cars that had the right of way.

• Numerous numb-skulls backing up at exits and construction sites in dangerous attempts to avoid traffic jams ahead.

All of this motorized mayhem is only aggravated, aided and abetted by highway engineers who create overnight mazes with cones, barrels and jersey barriers and clueless flagmen (and women) waving bewildered drivers into uncharted territory. Just last week, for instance, I found myself unable to get to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and onto Route 1 because paving crews had temporarily blocked all avenues of approach and egress. And as far as I could see, the roads didn’t even need repaving.

No one yet has been able to explain why the Maine Department of Transportation erected a temporary traffic light at the Interstate 295 northbound entrance from Franklin Arterial, causing a rash of near rear-enders because no one expects a traffic light there.

And whoever the dim bulb was who designed the lane closure at the blind end of the circular Falmouth entrance ramp to northbound I-295 ought to have his pension revoked, along with the sadist who designed the death-defying blind, circular entrance ramp in the first place. I don’t care how many Watch for Stopped Traffic and Be Prepared to Stop signs they post on that quarried loop, there is going to be an accident if there hasn’t been already.

The long-term solution to all these traffic troubles, of course, is better public transportation and less highway construction. The short-term solution is for the rest of you clowns to get out of my bleeping way.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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