|It's All Relative
by Mike Bailey
It's All Relative:
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This morning (10/14/2010) I had the opportunity to just sit and relax and watch the world go by.
I was sitting outside in the warm sunshine at a local car wash near my home and just kicked back
and watched all the trucks and cars, etc., whiz through the intersection where the car wash
In addition to what I call normal size cars and trucks, there were ample selections of huge tractor
trailer type vehicles, gravel and dirt haulers, a few weird things like out of some war movie and the
usual assortment of people on various types of bicycles trying to stay alive and out of the way of all
the motorized vehicles.
Since the location where I was sitting was a former gas station on the corner of a very big and busy
intersection, I had a front row seat to an amazing show. With eight lanes running north and south
and crisscrossed east to west by six lanes, things were in a constant state of change (to say
If you add to all the visual scenes that constantly changed a clamoring chorus of car and truck
engine noises, car and truck horns, and an undercurrent of loud ambient noises that get generated
by all that machinery in motion, you get the environment I was watching with amazement and I
might add, with feelings of apprehension I guess.
Apprehension … yes, you bet. As I sat there, I saw how dangerous everything really is at an
intersection like this. Each travel direction had double left turn lanes plus a right turn lane in
addition to the multiple straight through lanes. When you focused your attention to the middle of
the intersection, you really could see how nerve racking and dangerous all this controlled,
orchestrated chaos could (and is) be.
What amazed me were the speeds involved. I was astounded at how fast everyone seemed to be
whizzing through the intersection whether they were turning or barreling straight through --
especially when the lights were switching from green to red.
The speed limit on these two roads is 45 mph and the speeds through the intersection constantly
changed from creeping to 5, 10 mph and then jumping to say 20, 30, 45 mph or higher. At first, I
thought all the speeds were too fast -- hence the feeling of apprehension that I was experiencing
-- but then I realized that I travel through the same intersection on these same two roads dozens
of times per week and think nothing about it.
The controlled symphony of cars, trucks, bikes, and people all in motion throughout the intersection
has many faces. While sitting close to the side of the roaring masses of metal and people, their
presence seemed threatening and made me apprehensive in that there was an underlying fear that
something would go wrong, cars might bang together, or leave the roadway and run over me, etc.
What made all this even more frightening was looking at the drivers and seeing those that were
driving in the turn lanes with their head tilted way over to hold a phone to their ears while they
talked on the phone, or, they were in deep conversation with a passenger and were not really looking
at the roadway, and worst still, some just seemed to be in a daze -- driving in what I call robot
mode -- head not moving to check traffic, eyes almost glazed over, and no clue in hell where they
are, where they are going, or what they are doing.
I sat there watching all this and remembered and saw myself the dozens of times that I whizzed
through this very same intersection and never gave it another thought (except when the car ahead
of me made me miss the left turn green arrow because they were texting someone on their phone).
Then I realized in simpler terms, that it is all just relative.
Like so many things in our lives, it all depends on where you are or what you see or hear that frames
the scenes in front of you.
Some might see a busy intersection as a challenge to get though while others see it as an obstacle
that delays them.
Others might find the scene dangerous or worst still, apprehensively frightening.
Then again, some might just find it funny and entertaining.