Car America

2003 > America

Varoom! There went quality of life!

turning on the red light
A sea of red

Here I am, sitting in six lanes of traffic, six lanes of cars idling, with another six lanes idling across the way. Now add in the other twelve lanes that are actually moving, and I am in awe at the volume of vehicles sitting at this random stoplight in Northern Virginia.

We are not on a highway, we are not near any great attraction, we are literally at some random stoplight, as not only are the street signs too far away and small to read from my middle lane position, but this intersections looks like any of hundreds of other intersections in NoVA.

I’m out here in the wilds of suburbia to get my car’s oil changed, and this mass auto-experience even extends to Jiffy Lube. There, you do not pull up and get out to talk to the attendant. No, you wait in yet more idling lines of cars for your turn. You wait in your own car, without human interaction. Granted, my car has better music than the Jiffy Lube waiting room, but its mighty impersonal to not even acknowledge the people sitting in their cars around you.

Then again, Ballston, with its cookie-cutter high-rise apartments is pretty impersonal. With not a soul on the streets, only cars, you get the feeling that cars, not people live here. But they do, they live in these identical buildings, leading identical lives, that have them all stuck in identical twenty-four lane intersections, and they do it voluntarily!