THE URGE TO MERGE


I dedicate this article to those of you who habitually stop in the merging lanes and highway on-ramps. You know who you are, and sooner or later you’re really going to get it. You may have to spend the rest of your days wearing one of those horse collars to support those dislocated cervical vertebrae. The collars may have some horse hairs left in them to give you a nice itchy rash, and it serves you right.

 The least you could do is display a bumper sticker saying “WARNING.  I STOP IN MERGING LANES.”

I used to stop in merge lanes. That was years ago when I was an archaeologist digging holes in the ground in the outskirts of Port Coquitlam. I drove a government vehicle that the motor pool forgot about. It was five passenger GMC pick-up truck at one time, but its roadworthiness was questionable.

 There was a full turn of free play in the steering wheel. I  steered it by bumping it off the curbs. The tires were so bald you could see the air in them. Its running boards were almost rusted off. When you shifted gears, the truck would lurch forward with a terrible sound of the transmission wrenching loose from its resting places – hence its nickname, Lurch.

 One morning I had six passengers in Lurch. The extra one  was a visiting dignitary we called “The Squid.” He sat next to the door with a scowl on his face that looked like a bulldog with peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth.

Part of my daily routine included coaxing Lurch onto the freeway. This was a nerve wracking experience, I can tell you. Especially when all the passengers screamed like cats on a roller coaster. On this particular occasion, The Squid added his voice to the chorus as I slowed to await an opportunity to enter the lane. “AAAAIIIII,” said The Squid. “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SLOW DOWN, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SPEED UP!”

 In an act of self preservation, he flung the door open and jumped onto the running board. The commotion caused my hairs to stand on end one at a time. I rammed my foot on the accelerator causing Lurch to lunge into the traffic. True to Newtonian physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In this case, it was the scene in my rear view mirror of The Squid sitting on the side of the merging lane brandishing the remnants of the running board.

 “That Squid,” I said. “Always fooling around.” He arrived at my site as we were ready to leave for the day. I thanked him for his driving tip as he flung the running board at me.

 As The Squid tried to point out, there is a trick to merging into the main stream of traffic. Many teenagers who have just received their licences may be unaware of the proper technique. In the interests of promoting safe driving, I present four tips on getting onto that freeway.

 1) Don’t stop.

 The trick is to try to match speed with the main stream of traffic. When you stop, you are in danger of being rear ended. Worse, you may misjudge the speed of the main stream. This could cause a dreadful mess as you pull out from a stop.

 2) Use your signal.

     Let the traffic know what your intentions are – even if it is obvious.

 3) Use your mirror.

 Don’t crane your neck by peering out the window. Just use it to check your blind spot before you make your move. Look ahead while you’re accelerating, and use your mirror to find that chance to get in. This will prevent you from ramming some other Bozo in front of you who  stopped in the on ramp.

 4) Don’t cause a panic.

 When you see someone in front of you stopped on the on ramp, don’t get excited. Don’t blast him with your horn or nudge him with your bumper. He didn’t read this article like you did. Let him do the panicking. If you interfere, he could blast through the traffic like a cannonball through tin foil.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.

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2 Responses to “THE URGE TO MERGE”

  1. JODY Says:

    Booo! I stop because there isn’t a spot for me to merge into. I have to wait and NO ONE WILL LET ME IN and they were driving 90 mph. My car couldn’t get up to 60 mpr much less 90! I admit, I once caused a major pile up. He who hesitates doesn’t fit in but closing your eyes and plunging on anyway isn’t such a good idea either. Mostly I avoid on ramps. Once I get on, I just stay there until I reach my home or Alaska, whichever comes first.

  2. Sharon Says:

    Funny! And true!
    However, there are those times when the driving lane is full of semis going 75+mph. If I continue merging into the lane I’ll capture a semi about mid-beam with my Corolla. Guess who’s going to lose?
    Perhaps your next career will be as a driving teacher, but don’t use Lurch.

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