If you live anywhere near a road in South-Eastern Wisconsin, you know that it’s been a rough construction season. In the past, when someone said: “Wisconsin has two seasons: Winter and Road Repair,” you probably chuckled and said: “I hear that.” This year however, when someone says: “Wisconsin has two seasons: Winter and Road Repair,” you chuckle to hide your facial tic and “1000-yard Stare.”
‘Cause this year, we’ve seen some s#@t, man. It’s everywhere.
You have to wonder if it’s a joke. Like somewhere in an office downtown, a disgruntled civil engineer is drinking tequila and prank calling the D.O.T.
Just the other day, due to a closure, I took a detour that funneled traffic onto a street THAT WAS REDUCED TO ONE LANE BECAUSE OF CONSTRUCTION! At the very least, I expect a detour to be an improvement over a closure. I was there so long that I literally started to panic.
Nobody was moving. The earth movers sat empty in mockery; their day’s occupants were already with their families. Meanwhile, I wondered if I was going to have to abandon the car and walk home.
D.O.T., if your detour leads into a Kafkaesque parking lot of futility and spite, please let me take a chance on the closure. I promise to take full responsibility for my Dukes of Hazard driving maneuvers.
My point is that we all have to deal with it, and we have to deal with it together. Therefore, I’d like to share a traffic technique with you that is used in other metropolitan areas to great results. It’s called the Shuffle Merge.
The concept is simple: Let one car merge in front of you. It’s that easy.
But it’s only effective if everybody agrees to participate; every car merging and every car in traffic. Failure by just one car (generally a blue Chevy Corsica with lots of beads hanging from the rearview mirror and the license plate “TEXTGRL”) to comply, and the system breaks down into Lord of the Flies anarchy.
If a car in bumper to bumper traffic refuses to let another car merge, they’re just screwing the people behind them. Plus the car that they didn’t let in front of them will be right behind them for a very tense 30 minutes.
If, as a merging car, you wait until the last minute, you turn a crawl into a dead stop. And every orderly Shuffle Merger that you passed on the right, butting to the front of the line, wants to see you dead.
You’ve seen semis edge into a lane that’s closing, keeping the cars behind him from speeding ahead. In doing so, they’re setting up the Shuffle Merge, which, when executed properly, is as potent as the Packer Sweep.
Remember: L.O.C.M.I.F.O.Y. Let One Car Merge In Front Of You. And trust that the driver behind you will do the same. Pay it forward.
We can do this. We just need to make it to winter.