Tunnel Vision: Letters from a Frustrated Commuter

September 30th, 2009 by Kim Lenz

Dear woman with the smashed-in front bumper at the Fort Eustis exit of I-64:

I’m very sorry. It looks like you had a nasty fender-bender there. Isn’t it terrible when a car pulls right in front of you like that? I hope everyone’s OK.

But do you want to know why I and every other motorist gave you a dirty look when we drove by? Your little incident caused traffic to back up all the way to Williamsburg!

I’m now half an hour late for work and in a bad mood. And here’s the thing, lady – we all know Fort Eustis is a terrible entrance. There’s a military base there. Of course there are more cars entering the interstate than there is road to take them. So slow down!

You weren’t expecting that guy to check his blind spot, were you?

Late for work

Dear Department of Motor Vehicles:

As an avid license plate bingo player, your proliferation of “special” Virginia plates is really starting to tick me off.

Every time I think, “Oooh, is that Louisiana?” I look again and no, it’s just the plate that commemorates Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

There’s a Williamsburg plate. A ‘Kids First’ education plate. There’s the one with the birds on it. In fact, I just looked it up. There are more than 200 different plates available for Virginia motorists.

I guess each special plate purchased is a few bucks for a cash-strapped state. But I saw a Virginia plate with Penn State University on it last week. That image isn’t free. That means the state is paying royalties to a state university in another state, so a Virginia motorist can be a traitor to our state.

And Penn State even lost at home to Iowa on the weekend.

Looking for out-of-state plates

Dear rain:

Thanks so much for keeping my lawn and plants green this summer. By this time last year, our front yard was practically white.

But you’ve probably noticed, rain, when you fall during morning rush hour, Hampton Roads motorists start acting like they’re in a crash-up derby.

A thin film of water on I-64 and drivers start playing pinball with concrete abutments.

Could you do us a favor, rain? Don’t stop altogether, but try not to fall between 5 and 7 a.m., Monday through Thursday, when I’m making my drive to Norfolk for work.

If you enjoy the spectacle of our drivers and precipitation, you can save it up for Fridays, when the roads are jammed already.

Or better yet, give us snow, so we’ll all stay home. Because if you think we can’t drive in rain, you should see us when the snow starts falling.

Don’t feel like getting in an accident

Dear guy in the gold Volkswagen who cut in front of me in the two-mile line of cars heading into the Midtown Tunnel:

I see from your bumper sticker you’re in the military; thank you for your service. You’ll understand this analogy.

It’s a battle out there every day on our roads. For all of us.

We all know the infrastructure getting commuters in and out of Norfolk means giant bottlenecks at all three tunnels.

But we’re all in it together. Play by the rules, ya jerk! If you’re going through the Midtown Tunnel, get in the line where it starts.

Don’t think you’re fooling anybody, driving slowly in the moving lane beside us, waiting for a car to be too slow closing the gap with the car in front.

You’re just lucky you cut in two cars in front of me, instead of immediately in front.

I’m driving a V-8 Ford Explorer with 163,000 miles on it and no radio.

Do you think I’ll be too upset if I “don’t hit the brakes in time?”

Don’t tempt me. I’m already late for work.

Dear writers’ block:

You’d think it would be easy to come up with a column on commuting. There are a million ideas.

Too bad I couldn’t think up a single one this week. So I had to use this time to get some things off my chest.

I promise, I’ll be back with “real” news next week.

Brendan O’Hallarn

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