Driving home one Friday afternoon, it hit me. I make this same drive every day after work and it hadn’t dawned on me until just then. I was sitting at the same stop light I sit at almost every day.
Again, I was sitting at the same stop light I sit at nearly every day. That’s not an exaggeration. Quite literally, I almost always get stopped by this particular light. On the days I don’t get stopped at this light, I am sure to catch a red light at the next intersection. It got me thinking about how I get to that point every day. The more I thought about it, the more I realized something – there’s evil at play here. There is a stretch of road about two miles long that has three stop lights along the way. But to get a green light at all three stops is absolutely impossible.
No matter what time I leave work, there is absolutely zero doubt that I’ll get stopped at least once in this barren wasteland of a 2-mile stretch. I know this because after the realization first hit me, I tested my theory over the next few weeks. You know, like a crazy person.
Now, I could go into a level of detail you wouldn’t care to read, so I won’t. But just know that I spent three full weeks thinking about this. And here’s the short of it:
- If light #1 is Red when I arrive, well…I got stopped.
- If light #1 is Green when I arrive, I have about a 50% shot at getting through light #2.
- If light #1 is Green when I arrive, and light #2 is Red when I arrive, well…I got stopped.
- If light #1 is Green when I arrive, and light #2 is Green when I arrive, light #3 is 100%, no doubt in the world, absolutely going to be red. And…I’m going to get stopped.
This might not seem like a big deal to you – and admittedly, it isn’t – but you need to understand why this bugs me. I’m a context kind of guy. I dig it. I crave it, even. I’m the type of person who likes to have all the facts before making a decision (which can be a detriment sometimes, but that’s another story). So when I was sitting at light #3 for the 465th time, my brain started wondering…why?
How does that happen? The lights are on a timer, right? There was probably a traffic survey done, right? So someone looked at that traffic survey – no doubt taken during rush hour – and made a conscious decision, based on the data in hand, that they were going to adjust the timing of the lights just so. Who is that person? Where were they when they made that decision? Where are they now? Like, where are they now physically? Are they not in rush hour traffic, by chance? Because wouldn’t that be perfect? The person responsible for making my evening rush hour commute two minutes longer than is really necessary is sitting at home, probably wearing a slightly crooked smile on their face, petting their cat while the microwave zaps the lean cuisine tray they’re about to consume. Together, probably.
Do you understand how infuriating that is? I know that’s a lot of words, but it’s pretty simple. Some person – a deviant, really – has made rush hour even worse than it needs to be. If you’re that person, I want you to know that I’m on to your games. And I am devoting the rest of my life to stopping you.
There are days I get stopped at all three lights. It’s those days that make me wonder if I should take a different way home. ♦