Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potpourri: My Superheroine Identity

I have figured out my superheroine identity.  I am Traffic Rule Compliance Girl.  (Okay, so it's not the catchiest of monikers, but, having just figured out what my gig is, I haven't had much time to think about branding.) 

Batman has Gotham, Superman has Metropolis, and Traffic Rule Compliance Girl has the southern I-30 access road west of Montgomery Street.  (Wait, it's trendy to come up with acronyms for these things - SOIACROWEMOST?  Doesn't quite have the ring that SoHo does, but SOIACROWEMOST it shall be for purposes of this post.) 

Also:  the Cherry Street entrance into downtown Fort Worth.

Here's the thing about SOAICROWEMOST - there's a Whataburger on your right as you exit off of I-30, except the Whataburger is EXACTLY PARALLEL to the point of intersection of the exit ramp and the access road, if not a little bit BEHIND it.  Thus, proper protocol would be to exit the freeway, get into the far right lane of the access road, turn right onto Montgomery, make another immediate right (there's a Shell station on the corner, and basically you're hugging the Shell station), and then turn into the back of the Whataburger one block past Shell.  Except this is not what most numnuts do.  Because logic and safety are anathema to numnuts. 

Here is what numnuts do:  (1)  See Whataburger off to their right.  (2)  Think, "Hey, I could use some Whataburger right about now."  (3) Abruptly exit the freeway.  (4) Realize that Whataburger is RIGHT THERE.  (5) Cut across three lanes of access road traffic, driving PERPENDICULAR to the flow of cars on the access road.  Sports fans:  picture a lateral pass in football.  Now instead of a ball, picture a car going fifty miles an hour, barreling towards your driver's side door as you approach the Montgomery Street intersection.  If the driver hesitated a little too long before "exiting," then in order to acquire his Whataburger target he (sorry, but it's usually a he) will have to double-back a bit, so instead of cutting directly across the access road he may decide to drive JUST A LITTLE BIT directly into the flow of oncoming traffic.

I am one of the cars going east on the access road, approaching said intersection.  And I hate the Whataburger Frogger people.  I hate them to such an extent that I have made a science out of thwarting their efforts to cut directly across the access road, except not directly across the road but really SLIGHTLY INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC (can you tell that this ticks me off?).  It's complicated, but I have perfected the means of using my own personal vehicle to thwart their direct Whataburger access and force them to make the block.  No, I'm not an idiot - I don't take on all comers, but if we're talking about a compact car versus a giant truck, and their speed and angle of trajectory are just right, and my car is within a certain zone when they exit, I can - and do - keep them honest.

Then I get on the freeway, drive the mile (if that) to the Cherry Street exit, and the fun begins anew.  The Cherry Street exit is elevated and also somewhat blind - if you don't drive it every day, you might not know that there is a city garage on your right, at the base of the elevated section of road.  A city garage where police cars and motorcycles go to fuel up.  A city garage with a notch cut out of the side, just big enough for a cop to park his motorcycle and stand with his radar gun pointed up the ramp.  Thus, you had best take the 30 mile-an-hour sign that is located at the ramp's midway point pretty darn seriously, because a couple of times a month there's a speed trap waiting for you on the other side.

I take the sign VERY SERIOUSLY.  No, I haven't gotten a ticket - but my neighbor did, and it wasn't pretty.  And, given that I take the Cherry Street exit six days a week (Monday through Friday and Sunday for church), I am aware of just how often the speed trap is in place.

So I start slowing down well before the sign.  And people get mad at me.  Half of the time they are already tailgating me when I am driving the 45 mile-per-hour speed limit that is posted for the first half of the ramp, so when I start to slow down to 30, they are practically in my backseat (always a fun proposition when you are on an elevated ramp).  I am strongly considering having a professionally-lettered, waterproof sign made that I can hold out of my driver's side window:  "DUMB BUTT:  There is a better-than-average chance that a cop is waiting for us at the bottom of this ramp.  I'm doing you a favor, so get the heck off of my tail."

The urge to speed just to keep them off of my bumper is tempting - but I soldier on.  And, once or twice a month, I get my payoff:  Dumb Butt whips around me on my left, pulls back in front of me . . . and gets busted by Mr. Police Officer.  It is all I can do not to honk and wave as I toodle on past at 30 MPH.  Instead, I do a little victory shimmy in my seat - only from the ribcage down, so Mr. Police Officer won't see me and penalize me for excessive celebration.  (Can they do that?)

Other times, I get the satisfaction of looking in my rearview mirror and catching the sheepish expression of the dude behind me who was previously cussing me out and now realizes that, by forcing him to slow down, I just saved his sorry behind.  You're welcome, Citizen of Fort Worth.  Tell your friends all about Traffic Rule Compliance Girl, guardian of SOIACROWEMOST and the Cherry Street exit ramp.

Really, the gig suits me.  I'm kind of a nerd about traffic stuff.  As in, I will sit at an intersection and refuse to move if I don't have the right-of-way.  I will wave frantically at the person who does have the right-of-way, mouthing "It's your turn, IT'S YOUR TURN" until they get a clue and get off of dead-center.  (My husband points out that half of the time, I actually do have the right-of-way, but in my defense I would respond that (1) it's been a lot of years since I took the DPS written exam and (2) I AM TRAFFIC RULE COMPLIANCE GIRL, and I WILL NOT BE CHALLENGED.  If I say you have the right-of-way, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT-OF-WAY.)

Lately, I have started using my left turn signal on the Cherry Street exit ramp.  See, the exit is Cherry Street/Lancaster Avenue, and initially it's two lanes, but then the right-hand lane forks, and you can proceed essentially straight to exit Lancaster, or veer to the left to go to Cherry.  NO ONE SIGNALS IN THIS LANE - but it occurs to me that they should, and so now I do.  I may not remember all of the rules about rights-of-way, but I know from signaling on an exit ramp, because . . . I am a University of Texas football fan.  And, as a UT football fan, I am aware that, a few years prior, some of our dumb-butt, numnut baby football players were busted for marijuana possession during a traffic stop.  The cop had stopped them for failing to signal as they exited the freeway.  The defense attorney (no doubt a UT alum) argued that there was no basis for the traffic stop, because under Texas law you do not have to signal if you are in a dedicated turn lane.  They were in a dedicated turn lane, so therefore no signal was required, so therefore the traffic stop was unlawful, so therefore any search of their vehicle relating to the unlawful traffic stop was also unlawful, so therefore the pot in the car was inadmissible.  The judge (no doubt also an alum) agreed, and the charges were thrown out.

I call this the "Redshirt Freshman Rule."  And, under the Redshirt Freshman Rule, because the right-hand lane of the Cherry Street/Lancaster Avenue exit ramp is not a dedicated lane, I should signal.  As should we all.

If I'm wrong, don't you dare tell me.  I am Traffic Rule Compliance Girl, and I will not be challenged.

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