Interstate 35 northeast of downtown, once it splits away from 40, is cursed for several miles with the penury-induced deficiency called Onrampus insufficienti, which imposes certain conditions on the driver wishing to climb on. Chief among these is “Accelerate like a sumbitch.” In the case of the US 62 onramp, this has a prerequisite: make the right turn onto the ramp and hope you can see what’s sliding down the hill at you.
I was transitioning between these two modes when I saw it. A minivan. Worse, a white minivan. The Anti-Destination League gives these out as longevity awards. And it wasn’t going to budge horizontally, what with an 18-wheeler in the fast — well, the less-slow lane. Okay, fine. I pushed the loud pedal once more, and Gwendolyn’s ill-bred four-speed slushbox, having just climbed all the way to fourth, was in no hurry to drop back to third.
So I readied myself for the Killing of Overdrive, which is faster than waiting for the machine to shift on its own, when a 2-series BMW rocketed toward the right and into the space I’d chosen for myself. Oh, great. The van, meanwhile, had managed to creep above the speed limit. I began calculating closing distances and where I’d end up in the breakdown lane, such as it is.
Fortunately, Bimmer Dude was paying attention after all, and he opened up more space, mostly by scaring the Mazda in front of him into cranking it up. I duly slid into the flow, reached for my hat to tip to the guy, realized I wasn’t wearing a hat, and staked out a place in front of the big rig. The van, down to 45 mph or so, departed at the next exit, short-circuiting any plans I may have had to curse its driver for staying in the lane.
This sort of thing is consistent with what I’ve been telling the road-building guys: we have enough highway capacity. What we don’t have is a way to sweep away the people who think the D on the shift lever stands for “Dawdle.”