taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Travelling from east to west is fundamentally different from travelling north-south. I know this because I now work on the far west side of town. Going east-west is lackadaisical, it lacks purpose, whereas north-south is all about getting to your desitnation as quickly as possible. North-south is efficiency. East-west is all about the journey.

On Route 40, which used to be the National Road, people drive slowly even if there's no car in front of them, even when the lights are green. On Route 70, people drive faster, but not by much. And beltways--whether in D.C. or Baltimore--always clog up on the east-west sections far more than the north-south sections.

It's as though our monkey brains are magnetic, and when we reach equilibrium between two poles, we freeze--only able to motor along, checking out the scenery.

What else but involuntary magnetic equilibrum explains the sluggish Thorazine drivers heading east throughout the city at five? the constant traffic jam between 795 and Liberty Road? that legendary American journey west? While fluid dymanics surely plays a part, there simply must be some chemical interaction that prohibits us from moving in certain directions in an efficient way.

The most horrifying part of it all, of course, is that my little monkey brain is caving under the pressure of the east-west commute. Lately I find myself just kind of meandering along, completely comfortable driving 30 mph, not in a big hurry to go anywhere. And I'm always in a big hurry to go somewhere! In general, it doesn't matter where it is--home, work, a lame party--I want to get there. And yet, driving along the Y-axis of my city, I'm perfectly content to cruise along without any purpose whatsoever.

Maybe I need a job downtown, south of here. That would get me moving again in the right direction. Drawn to something. Compelled to get there--wherever there is.


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