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People in cars on the Sylvan Overpass

Published 2012-05-01

Every day, on the Sylvan overpass, I pass a line of people in cars waiting to turn right off Scholls Ferry onto US-26. About four miles from downtown, all downhill.

About these people: they are mostly alone in their cars. Sometimes they text. Or they talk to the windshield in that disorienting “hands-free phone” manner. Usually they eat. Almost always they drink a warm beverage. They almost never open their windows, even in nice weather. Sometimes the women put on makeup and sometimes the men shave with an electric shaver. I see way too many people eating yogurt or cereal with a spoon.

Call me old-fashioned but I don’t think you can drive and also eat something messy with a spoon.

They never smile. Never. Such a nice neighborhood, up there in the trees; nice cars too. If I had such a nice car and lived in such a nice neighborhood I hope I would smile more often.

Sometimes they wear angry or irritated expressions. Usually they wear tired or bored expressions. At eight in the morning, already tired or bored, poor souls. They are Not Having Fun. They look at me with puzzlement. On my bike, in the bike lane, passing them. This doesn’t seem to make them angrier, or more irritated. Just bemused. Like: whoa, huh, look at that guy on a bike. This isn’t like NE Broadway or Williams Avenue or Ladd Circle, chuckyjam-full of people on bikes. I’m usually the only person on a bike at this intersection.

I wonder if they think I’m judging them. Because I am. The judgement I pass is: these nice people put a very low priority on fun. Sometimes I lock eyes with a nice person and I send a telepathic signal to him or her: “we are both here at the same place at the same time. I’m on my bike having fun. You’re not having fun. I’ve seen people having fun and they don’t look like you.” I don’t care about sprawl or global warming or obesity or roadway economics. I don’t judge them on those criteria. No: I wonder why they aren’t out here with me having fun.