Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shut up and Drive

I've been looking for a driver who's qualified,
So if you think that you're the one…
traf•fic (tr f k) noun 
a. The passage of people or vehicles along routes of transportation.
b. Vehicles or pedestrians in transit: heavy traffic on the turnpike; stopped oncoming traffic to let the children cross. 
For the most part, traffic, out here where I live meant waiting for three vehicles to pass before attempting a left turn. But that was before the ‘boom’. Now, travel is a living nightmare.
The usual traffic out my bug splattered windshield. In the good old days!

According to the United States Census, between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012, Midland and Odessa placed first and fifth respectively on the Census’ list of fastest growing metro areas in the country by percent increase. The oil fields (source of the boom) offer generous pay, leaving other businesses scrambling for workers because they aren’t able to match the wages and/or benefits. Housing as expensive as New York City’s has become the norm in the area. That is, if one can find housing. And traffic has increased and placed a strain on roads and highways. Statistics show vehicle crashes are up 40%, with fatalities up 58 %. All the while the growth continues.
Another view. Not much traffic now but it gets hairy.

I’m fortunate that I don’t live in either of these cities. I live in a small town south of Odessa. However, like many, I commute to the city for work. My office is located between the two municipalities, which are rapidly becoming joined, at the airport complex. There are approximately four ways to get there from my house, and all but one includes a stretch on a road heavily traveled by trucks. There are two routes I would take to reach the interstate or other highway to get to that road. One is a narrow, two lane oilfield road and the other is a four lane highway. I choose the four lane. It’s fairly decent until I reach the…Abyss.

The Abyss, as I’ve callously termed this hellish stretch of highway, is a daily challenge at its best. In this Abyss, traffic signs have no meaning. Residents of the area regard them as decorations, disregarding any significance they may have. The octagonal red sign embellishes most intersections to the highway. In some places the ornament lays on the ground instead of standing upright.

Besides the customary white lines most highways are adorned with, this stretch has the added attraction of dark skid marks sideways to both shoulders. Guardrails or posts with heavy wire strung between indicating no crossing are broken and mangled.
Residents in this area have no idea of physics. I never took physics in school but I do have a concept of force. Whenever two things interact, a pair of forces is always involved. Therefore, pulling an almost inanimate object (resident’s car) into the path of a vehicle moving at the least, 75 miles per hour, could create a problem. Like death. Similarly, coming upon a vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler, who did pull out at an appropriate time but hasn’t made it up to highway speed, and not changing lanes or decelerating causes the same trauma.

Math story problems were also overlooked in this region. Nobody had the privilege of experiencing such annoyances as: If you drive 40 mph instead of 30 mph, you save 30 seconds per mile, but if you make the same 10 mph increase from 70 mph to 80 mph, you only save 5.6 seconds per mile. Why? Moral, that number on the speed limit sign actually means something.

I often wish law enforcement had a more definite presence on this section of the daily route. However it would take a policeman at each intersection and there’s not enough man power. Besides, I don’t know if they’ve developed a fine structure for ignorance.
In the meantime I’ve adjusted my route, trying to avoid the most heinous areas. I’m on alert, braking, slowing, avoiding, every mile of the way. To say it’s stressful is a misnomer. But it looks like, if anything, it’s going to become worse before it becomes better. So I’ll don my crash helmet, have my new car customized with roll bars and count down until I no longer have to make the trip during the peak hours. Someday.

Now shut up and drive.
Drive, drive, drive.

It was my lucky week! Actually these came during the spring break week but I was gone so got to celebrate them this week. First is a lovely Scentsy pot I won. It came with two kinds of scent bars to go inside. It’s smelling better here by the minute!
My new Scentsy pot and bars!

Next is a cute little girl I named Pinelope.


She’s created by my knitting friend, Pat! Her note said she didn’t know if she (Pinelope) would hold my double points but her main duty was to make me smile! Pinelope did her duty! Thank you Pat!
Pinelope with double points. Reminds me of a voodoo baby!

Shut up and drive.
Drive, drive, drive.


  1. So glad Pinelope is on the job. You are very welcome.

  2. I'm still tempted to move to Midland and work at McDonalds. Traffic or not!

    1. I thought I had a picture of that sign. If I find it I'll send it to you! Oh, they also come get you and take you home so the traffic wouldn't be a bother! ha ha

  3. Replies
    1. It really is. There were 8 fatalities this week. Stressful for sure.