I Just Have to Say It

10 Jul

My wife and I have talked a lot lately about possibly moving to a different state when we are both retired. On our trip east to see our newest grandchild recently, I discovered one that seems to be after my heart: West Virginia. As an amateur photographer, I was immediately and naturally captivated by the beauty. Mind you, that was just in driving through. I can only imagine what could be discovered on foot. The biggest lure for me toward West Virginia was the drivers.

The state is not immune to road repairs with their lane blockages and force lane merges—things we endure in Illinois on a regular basis. Several times I saw the sign saying lane ends ½ mile head, merge right or merge left. I took a quick glance in my mirrors, looking for how many drivers gunned it to get ahead of as many cars as possible. Each time I did a double-take. Behind me I saw drivers adjust their speed and mesh together in single file. The long line of cars slipped right through the construction—no back up, no break lights popping on in front of me, no delays. It was phenomenal.

For this next discovery, you should probably be sitting down. They used their turn signals. Honest. Before starting to pass another vehicle, they signaled their intended lane change.
They signaled again to pull back into their original lane. In good measure before exiting on a ramp, they signaled. They knew what that little lever on the left side of the steering column is for and used it to the fullest.

I fell in love with West Virginia.

Then we made it back to Indiana.

Half-way through the state and about twelve miles from the ramp for our bypass route, the traffic came to a complete stop. We had noticed we were back in the region where the merge alerts—placed a full mile before the lane closure—created a very different response from drivers. For Midwesterners, the sign is like dropping the white flag. The race to the bottleneck is on! Never mind the fact that their actions are what causes the traffic problem. They plan on playing chicken and winning against those who chose to harken to the sign’s directive and flow naturally through the restriction. Some drivers compounded the traffic jam by dropping out of line and running up the shoulder, only finding they had to merge back in because the shoulder was also closed up ahead. And, once wasn’t enough. Two hours up the road we encountered the same thing—this time eight miles from our turn.

We finally made it home three hours late. Unnecessarily late. Why can’t we Midwesterners be more like drivers in West Virginia?

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