There’s a portion of interstate in downtown Minneapolis that funnels through a tunnel. When the interstate was built in the sixties, the congestion at this SW corner of the city warranted the expense and logistics involved in sinking in the subterranean passage. That was 1969, and in 1971 the neighbors threw a party in the below ground venue celebrating its completion.
Fast forward to the here and now and the congestion has returned. In 2018, according to one estimate, 185,000 cars passed through the tunnel every day. And not always successfully as the video clip shows. The end result is that there is often a back up from the feeders that bring traffic through the tunnel.
As a motorist approaches the city from the west during peak hours, and the downtown skyline takes shape above the dash, there’s inevitably lineup to exit on a right hand ramp to the tunnel and destinations beyond. Vehicles can start queuing up a couple of miles before the turn. Well before the green overhead placards announces the interchange.
As you sit behind the wheel, see-sawing down the right hand lane, there are always those drivers. You know the ones. They bypass the two mile wait, dart in, merge in, or arrogantly come to a full stop on the interstate, blinker pulsing, and wait until someone lets them in. (Do they realize they are at a full stop on a freeway?) I used to get irritated at such line jumpers. I used to pull up so tight to the bumper in front of me so as to deny them any chance of sliding in.
But time has altered my view.
Most skippers pull into spot ahead of trucks. There’s a slight incline on the bypass and the trucks can’t gear up fast enough to keep the line tight. There is often the space for several vehicles ahead of a semi. Then you have the putterers, so conservative in their driving that they leave ample room between them and the car in front. The darters grab those opportunities and fill those spaces. It dawned on me one day, maybe as the late afternoon sun reflected back on me off of one of those glass paneled high rises, that the line jumpers actually make the process more efficient, not less.
Of course it doesn’t work so well if no one conforms to the norms of courtesy. But the thing is that in group activities, you don’t need everyone to follow the rules at all times. In the case of freeway sharing, this example indicates a little bending of intentions makes the system flow a little freer. We just need most of the people pointing the same direction. Not every last one.
Which is one way of saying we shouldn’t get all bent out of shape by the few objectionable sheep in the flock. Spend time an energy on the majority, and keep moving forward.
One thought on “Slack in the System”
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