On Tuesday afternoon, my long drive home was made even longer by an accident in the construction zone on I-196. Right where the two eastbound lanes were funneled into a single lane, and then moved over onto the shoulder.
It's never nice to have an accident in a single construction lane, because often there is no shoulder to pull over. And rescue workers can have a hard time getting in, especially as most of the drivers want to pull in as close as they can to the car in front of them. Close packed cars leave little maneuvering room.
Worse, the accident occurred between the ramp over from the M-6 freeway where I got on I-196 and the next 44th Street exit, so it wasn't like I could go anywhere but sit and wait while things get cleared out.
There was no point in sitting burning gas, keeping it in gear and inching forward. So I finally shut it down and waited for things to get cleared.
I Am Surrounded By Idiots
But then again, there are other people... One of my favorite economics concepts is called fallacy of composition -- what is best for an individual is often the worst thing for everyone. The classic example is all the good drivers merging over to a single lane before a construction zone, except for the assholes who pull into the now empty other lane and zoom up to the front. They are usually driving Entitlement Cars such as BMWs and Cadillacs.
In this case, people began zooming up the left lane, which is separated by orange barrels, and seeing the cars jammed ahead, they eventually turned left onto the median and then back onto the westbound lanes -- right where the westbound traffic is making its crossover back onto its own lanes and the speed limit is going to increase.
Two county patrol vehicles came up the lefthand lane, lights flashing. I thought they might start giving tickets to people. No. The one worked its way around the barriers in order to get near the crash, a completely legitimate thing. The second stopped, saw the first was on the scene, and it took the median detour and sped away, lights off, in the other direction.
But then I spotted in my mirror some cars zooming up the right-side shoulder. Now given that the single eastbound lane was about to be moved onto the shoulder, I really don't know where these people thought they were going to go. So when then got up to me, the first car spotted the gap which had developed between me and the next car and slammed on the brakes, skidding on the wet pavement. Oh yeah, did I mention it was raining the whole time?
The next three cars barely missed running into each other.
Here's a shot showing idiots to the left of me and idiots to the right of me -- you can see someone inching across the waterlogged median on the left:
Some of the idiots on my right decided to cross through the gap and take the median detour. Eventually I was left with one idiot from the right in front of me after the two wreckers got in and cleared things up. And he proceeded forward, once things were clear, at about 25 mph in a 45/60 mph construction zone -- yakking on his cell phone and trying to balance the phone on his shoulder while rummaging around in the other seat. Once there wasn't a concrete barrier to his right, he eventually pulled over onto the soggy grass, letting the long line of traffic by.
Not sure what caused the accident in the first place, but rain, constricting lanes and people unwilling to slow down are quite possibly culprits. I'm pretty sure that back wheel is not pointing in the factory specified angle:
This pretty much took up an hour -- and used up the hour I was going to have for a nap before doing things when I got home. Maybe I should've been a selfish idiot like everyone else and leaned back and closed my eyes until the truck behind me honked for me to go.
But I don't work that way.