(Or: Fates Worse Than Death...)
Tim used to joke that the New Mexico Department of Transportation pays several thousand people a month to just kind of drive their cars around town. For a long time, I chalked it up to his East coast pretention (“What do you mean, there’s only one Dunkin Donuts?”), but while I was able to dismiss most of his other complaints about the way Santa Fe is organized, or the almost universally hostile customer service at just about every business in town, this particular hyperbolic observation stuck with me. And now I’m finally willing to concede the point. There’s no other logical reason for this many cars to be on Cerrillos at 2PM on a Tuesday. There aren’t even this many people in this town. Where are they all going?
And how committed are they, really, to getting there? I can hear Tim screaming in the back of my mind as I angrily grip my steering wheel and project plague-wishes at the jackass with the UNM plates in front of me, “IT’S A GREEN LIGHT MOTHERFUCKER, MOVE YOUR SHITBOX!” Don’t these people have jobs? It’s my one day off this week, and I have several important things to accomplish. If it wasn’t for the mouth-breathers in full sized trucks all around me, staring at their phones, perpetuating the stand-still traffic, I could probably tool my way around town and be home within the hour, tasks accomplished, responsibilities put to bed. Instead, I’m on my way back to Home Depot for the second time today (fates worse than death…), and I’ve gone through two traffic lights over the last 15 minutes. Just now, 4 cars made it through the last green, because everyone stopped at the next light is backed all the way up to this intersection.
“WHERE ARE YOU EVEN ALL GOING?!” Tim’s voice chimes back in, an artifact of all the times this happened to us at even more bizarre hours of the day and night, “IT’S 10 PM! NOTHING IS OPEN!” he’d add on those occasions.
“They’re all out buying weed, too, dude,” I’d joke at him from the passenger’s seat. This experience was much less frustrating when it wasn’t my job to get us out of it. Also, the late-night traffic jams were more tolerable, if only for the fact that the sun itself wasn’t hanging out with us in the car the whole time. It’s currently hovering just a couple of feet above my windshield, and despite having all my windows rolled down, the fact that I can’t move at more than 15 miles an hour makes me realize it might have been not only quicker, but also more comfortable to walk.
The light turns yellow again, and UNM decides he’s had enough. Peeling out, and cutting across the gap next to us, he zips between two moving cars, cuts off the guy in the turn lane, and turns onto Camino Carlos Rey as the light is turning red. I applaud him sarcastically, knowing that even if he was looking in his rearview mirror and noticed me, my chiding would have had little effect.
I pull up into my new spot at the front of the line, and think a couple final evil thoughts for the asshole that just vacated it. Hopefully, he’s about to get wedged into the construction fiasco on Siringo, or maybe he’ll hit a speed trap down on Zia. Maybe the DOT will forget to send his check this month, and he’ll find a real job, so some of us can get some shit done. Shit. Green light. I gotta get into that left lane, too.