Here in New Jersey, we call them “Traffic Circles”. In other parts of the country they answer to the name of “Rotary”, and Giselle, our trusty GPS named for a character in the movie Enchanted, calls them round abouts.
However, it doesn’t matter what they are called, if you have not studied and prepped and practiced before entering a traffic circle, well, the results could be horrifying. And for those poor souls who enter a busy traffic circle for the first time, late at night, in the rain, in a strange city, (insert sound of terrifying clap of thunder) ….they enter The Traffic Circle of Doom.
The drive to Washington, DC had been unexpectedly uneventful. We were looking forward to spending the holiday weekend with my step-daughter Jessica. With presents and suit cases tucked carefully in the truck, a fully charged ipad
placed strategically within my 14-year old Melissa’s reach, and plenty of snacks to sustain us during the three hour drive, we happily hit the road.
Now, I should tell you that Bob and I have, what I consider to be a very respectful relationship. Arguments, which come few and far between, are usually triggered by one of four factors:
1. Being hot
2. Being hungry
3. Getting stuck in traffic
4. Getting lost
Combine one or more of these factors and you’re entering dangerous waters. Mix all four together and, well, we’d just stuff the divorce attorney in the back seat to save time.
So, getting back to our drive to Washington, DC. Giselle faithfully guided us over bridges, onto highways, through tunnels, and finally, to the exit that would put us within three seemingly short miles of our final destination. But first, unbeknown to us, we would have to pass one final obstacle (insert sound track from Jaws)
The Traffic Circle of Doom!
We approached slowly, with caution. Bob turned the wiper blades to high in an effort to aid visibility, while I tried to decipher the map on Giselle’s screen.
“Enter round about and take third exit,” came Giselle’s command.
Ok, we can do this, I thought.
Enter the circle. So far so good.
Pass one exit.
Alright, we’re going to make it.
Approach second exit.
Wait. Why is the car turning? Giselle said the third exit and it’s only the second exit. WHY IS THE CAR TURNING?
Ok, stay calm, Bob tells me. He got confused, innocent mistake. We’ll merely go around the block and tackle the circle again.
Ha ha. Around the block. Seems like such a simple concept. But no, not in Washington, DC. Around the block can take another three years in Washington DC, what with 3,000 traffic lights each lasting 10,000 hours, and 50,000 one way streets forcing you to the other side of town just to eventually get you back to…… The Traffic Circle of Doom.
I should pause here in our tale to explain why I nearly lapse into seizures every time I get lost. Researchers have worked long and hard to unlock the mysteries of a lost person’s mind, but the answer is so simple …….Control, or shall I say, lack of it. Being lost = Being Out of Control. When I am out of control all rational thought oozes out of my brain. Will I be stuck in Washington DC traffic forever, unable to navigate a simple traffic circle? No, of course not, that’s just silly………YES! YES I WILL! I WILL NEVER GET OUT OF THIS CAR! I WILL NEVER SEE JESSICA! WE WILL BE STUCK IN THIS TRAFFIC CIRCLE UNTIL THE END OF TIME!
So, as all sense of serenity escaped through every pore in my skin, we turned the corner, turned again, did a zig zag, slipped under a tunnel, loop de looped around a bend and ended up back at The Traffic Circle of Doom.
“Enter round about and take second exit.”
I have no idea why we now had to escape at the second exit instead of the third, but we don’t question Giselle.
Enter the circle.
Hold my breath.
Pass one exit.
Approach the second exit.
Inhale and hold.
Drive past the second exit.
Giselle said to get off at the second exit! Why didn’t we get off at the second exit?!
Tears fell in earnest as I became unequivocally convinced I would linger in Washington, DC traffic until the end of time. After expletives directed at my husband that my daughter should have never heard escaped from my mouth, we finally arrived at our destination.
Bob and I laughed off our little adventure as we handed the keys to Jessica, who willingly took the wheel whenever we needed to drive in DC throughout our weekend stay.
Thank goodness I have a good natured husband with a sense of humor who can forgive me when I erupt from within. Bob, I love you, but next time we get near a traffic circle, please, I beg of you, let me drive.