Have you ever changed lines at the supermarket because the one beside you has less people in it? I don’t know about you, but most times I decide to do this I get stuck behind a super slow person with a particular time-consuming problem. By the time I’ve paid for my groceries, the person that was standing right behind me when I made my choice to find a faster line has already paid, left the store, and is at home smoking his pipe.
Perhaps your financial advisor has recommended a stock, suggesting it will soon increase in value, say 10%. Which leads to the eternal question: How soon is soon? When you find that things haven’t turned out quite the way you thought they would, i.e. the time it would take to get rich, you decide, in your infinite wisdom and quite finite lack of patience, to sell said stock. Of course, the day after you do it begins its majestic climb in the market and you’re out thousands of dollars.
Myself, I like to find the fast lane on the highway. Surely that big gap in the lane right next to mine is meant to be filled by my car! As soon as I’ve filled it the traffic comes to a resounding halt and hundreds of cars in the lane I was just in sail by me, their front grills smiling mockingly while I stare at the exhaust pipe of the vehicle inches from mine.
Today, in trying to get onto the Decarie Expressway so that I could escape Montreal and make it in time for an appointment in Cowansville, I made one bad decision after another. Instead of turning north from Vezina avenue to the Decarie service road so that I could turn around one street later to hop onto the expressway directly, I noticed gridlock on said service road, perceived a grand stretch of emptiness on the service road going in the other direction and thought that I could beat the traffic! Ha! That emptiness lasted only a couple of blocks. By the time I reached Isabella Avenue two kilometers later I was fender-deep in what is now typical-Montreal-traffic knowing full well that, despite the congestion I spied earlier between Vezina and Jean-Talon, I would have easily been on the damn expressway by now.
But that wasn’t good enough. I had to make another stupid decision.
I didn’t like the number of cars I noticed piled up between Isabella and Côte-Saint-Luc Road, which is right before the expressway entrance. Surely if I turn right on Isabella, I thought, I can mosey my way back up to Côte-Saint-Luc Road more quickly and reach the expressway ahead of all these other cars.
The first four roads or so wouldn’t let me make a left turn back south, in the direction of Côte-Saint-Luc Road (Montreal is famous for its one-way streets, and in this case no left turns between 8 am and 6 pm). So I was forced to drive deeper and deeper into city neighbourhoods, getting further and further away from Decarie.
Now I had to live with the thought that, had I faced that little bit of traffic I saw when I first left work, I would probably be in New York City by now.
Finally I reached Côte-Saint-Luc Road only to find tons more traffic. However, there was a little space in that lane in front of me. It just wasn’t the correct lane to be in that would let me turn right back onto the service road. Would my car signal be enough to let someone allow me into that lane? Hell no!
Anyway, I finally made it back onto the service road and eventually the expressway. In an alternate universe my wiser self was already happily motoring on the highway. In this one, the miserable self that I have to life with hadn’t even reached the Champlain Bridge!
Have I learned my lesson, you might ask? Hell, no!
For all the meditation that I practice (couple that with Yoga every morning) I still seem to get caught up in the crazy frenzy of “Montreal driving”. Ironically, once I’m on the highway, I usually cruise at a relatively slow speed, enjoying my ride at 90-95 klics per hour (55-60 miles per hour). In Quebec, even though the maximum speed on the highway is 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour), it is actually regarded by locals as the minimum speed. Do you think drivers like being stuck behind me while I’m motoring away at 90 k/h? Er, no! (Even though I am in the so-called “slow lane”.)
But as soon as things slow down, there I go again, looking for the faster lane. Should I try it? Should I stay in the one I’m in? This is the Quebec version of an “Existential Question”.