The Commuter Hell
Southern California freeway culture is bound for torment: road rage climaxes, commuters vow to view drivers as machines, a commuter quits his job, weary from the unavoidable traffic, and a student misses study time stuck in traffic, as well as a test.
Before Cris Rogers merged onto the 10 Freeway he slowed down to let a semi-truck pass him. Suddenly, a driver from behind him decided to swerve onto the outer onramp lane, cutting off both Rogers and the semi-truck, and forcing them to slam on the brakes.
Fear turned into anger and Roger said, ‘What a prick! Not only was that illegal, but what kind of idiot cuts off a semi?’
Despite the other car’s reckless race for lane space, it ended up stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic near Rosemead Boulevard, the very next onramp. Rogers pulled up beside the car. Though he was usually content to flip off a driver that pissed him off, this time he rolled down his window and shouted, ‘You’re a freakin’ idiot!’ The man in the other car conveniently rolled down his window. Openly belligerent, the driver replied, ‘Why don’t you pull over? I’m gonna kick your ass.’ At that point Rogers was ready for a confrontation. He had been commuting that route for four years and was tired of people’s self-centered aggressive tactics on the freeway.
Rogers pulled off onto the shoulder of the freeway, determined to teach the guy a lesson. Although Rogers was nervous, part of him was curious to see if the other driver would actually follow through on his challenge.
To Rogers’ surprise and relief, the guy kept driving. Despite Rogers’ urge to release some of his frustration with the freeway by socking someone in the nose, it suddenly dawned on him that road rage was wasting his time, and possibly even endangering his life. It was safer to view other drivers on the freeway as simply cars, not people. Although he then resolved to not let other drivers bother him, he started to think of his fellow commuters like he did characters in a film; they were just images on a screen, sounds from speakers. They could only affect him emotionally if he let them.
While Rogers pledged to withdraw from emotional driving, with time he couldn’t help but be tired of the drivers on the freeway again.
After seven years of having a 22-mile commute that took an average of 60 to 75 minutes during rush hour, Rogers said, ‘Driving