Off The On Ramp

Michigan has had its share of road rage and highway shootings over the years. Traffic circles were introduced partially in response to that, and have three simple rules: yield to any car already in the circle, drive in the same direction as the other cars, and enter at your own risk. The number of deaths in traffic circles is much lower than the rest of Michigan roadways, but, then, it’s a lot more difficult to shoot a moving target.

One traffic element that is free from debate is that highway on-ramps are for entering the highway, not exiting. There should be no question about which way a car is going on an on-ramp. When you vomit, you project stuff out of your mouth, not take it in. I would understand if someone was shot going the wrong way on an on-ramp. They could argue it was a form of public service, the way deer hunting thins the herd, or NASCAR helps keep rednecks occupied for a few hours each week.

In a Detroit suburb, I confused myself as I navigated a triple traffic circle — that’s three in a row with roads connecting to each one the way Spock the Vulcan has three hearts with veins and arteries hither and yon — and I accidently ended up on the on-ramp to I-23 when that was the last place I wanted to be. To go further south on I-23 meant I’d miss an appointment, and would have to reschedule and return here some other day when traffic might be even worse. I did not want to miss the appointment. In a panic, I stopped the car short of the highway, but a very long way along the on-ramp, and pointed in the wrong direction.

Cars swerved to avoid me as I sat in may car on the on-ramp. I decided to reverse off of the on-ramp. I couldn’t have been more at risk for a rear-ending unless I bent over to pick up my soap in the men’s shower at the YMCA after the Zumba class let out. Cars honked as they swerved around me, but I made it.

I then had to reverse into the traffic circle, entering in the wrong direction from a place no one would expect me to be, and also would have to shift gears to join the traffic flow, all while twisting to look out the rear window. Only Mitt Romney trying to seem like a typical American would have a stranger path to follow, but having reversed myself off the on-ramp, why not continue?

I made it onto the traffic circle. For a moment I thought that people were courteous and understanding, but I know that’s a lie; then I thought that everyone else is a good enough driver to adjust, but I know that people suck at driving; I have settled on two possible explanations: either everyone assumed I was crazy enough to also have a loaded gun, or everyone else is a bigger sap than I am. My money is on the former; only the biggest sap in the country would risk his life so as not to miss an appointment.