Easy on the brakes, brother

Ever read those studies about people spending up to a month a year in traffic or some such thing? That's me. My daily commute usually takes me to the Southeast Distressway and under the city in our fancy new drainage system named, however unfortunately, for the late Tip O'Neill (I like his building much better than his tunnel).

Anyway, it's safe to say that in my regular travels on the broken-but-fixed-to-still-be-broken highways of Massachusetts, I sit in my fair share of traffic. It's part of the reason I started this weblog. I needed some therapy, and this is free. I've seen a lot on the roads, and I have chronicled it here, although I haven't been as diligent lately.

Tonight's ride featured a pleasant stop-and-go trail from the middle of the O'Neill sieve to about Malibu Beach, and most of that was behind a guy who was too hard on his brakes. In the 2.5 years of this commute, I have only had to replace my front brakes, which isn't bad if you ask me, considering they get more use than my accelerator most mornings and afternoons. But the guy in front of me tonight is going to need brakes faster than me.

Who's ever done this? Rolling to a stop, there's suddenly not enough room and you have to press harder so the car almost jerks to a stop. It's not the most pleasant feeling -- like you've come to the end of a roller coaster, right? That's how this guy used his brakes every time. Therefore, that's how I had to use my brakes every time, and the guy behind me. Even when I tried to give the blue Corolla some room, he would then brake sooner, leaving a ton of space in front of him, and very little behind.

Of course it didn't help matters much when his head disappeared from in front of his head rest as we were creeping along. I could see his face in his rear view mirror and he was clearly looking for something. That's when I put a little more room between us. When he popped back up, guess what was attached to his ear? His cell phone. I kept my distance.

Turns out that his conversation was very important to have at that moment, even as an ambulance came up behind us. All the other drivers in our lane managed to move out of the way, except for the hard-braking dude in front of me. He was busy talking. Luckily the siren gave him a hint of what to do and he moved to another lane, therefore sparing me any more hard stops behind him. He was now someone else's problem, and I could focus on other things like how many times I passed the car next to me. That's how I judge if my lane is moving faster than another.


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