Ask anyone who drives in this town and you’ll get a diatribe about traffic so vicious it might bite, about backups so unnecessary they’ll make you foam at the mouth, about drivers so inept they’ll make your blood boil.
Welcome to my take on our city's erstwhile motorists.
The stereotypical Baton Rouge driver attacks the road with the gusto of someone who is an hour late to his own wedding or the disengaged laziness of a person on a sightseeing tour, never to be bothered again.
There is no in between, no gray area, no moderation. It’s either driving with a murderous intent to steamroll every other vehicle or manning the steering wheel without any recognition of the world beyond the windshield.
Whether overly aggressive or forcefully polite, these drivers make setting off on your journey across the Red Stick, at times, a daunting task.
Shame will be thrust upon you and your family if you don't immediately floor it when a light turns red. The cacophony of 1,000 horns will blare, alerting everyone to your traffic transgression. The few seconds it took to register that the light had changed and to put your foot on the accelerator are precious moments you have stolen from other drivers.
Desperate for affordable fixes to daily traffic problems near the Interstate 10 Mississippi River bridge, Gov. John Bel Edwards and other stat…
How dare you?
This same driver will zoom around you, cutting off school buses, trucks, vans of children holding puppies going to visit sick old people. Never mind if their destination is simply the next red light, Speed Racer got there first, and it’s important to them that you recognize that.
Across the spectrum is the overly polite driver, who will force you to take their right of way.
At a four-way stop? Even though this other driver stopped first, he will insist that you go before him. Need to make a left turn? This driver will literally stop traffic and motion frantically for you to turn out in front of them as a queue of angry drivers forms behind them.
And they will! Not! Move!
Not until you dangerously make your left turn in front of a seething mob of drivers who now wish death upon you and your dog.
But that first driver? Thinks he’s the nicest guy in the world because he stopped traffic to force you to turn, politely sending you toward possible death or dismemberment. Throw him a parade. Erect a statute in his honor. Give him a key to the damn city.
Following the rules of the road in this town is the real act of heroism most days. Those who violate this social contract, including who has the right of way, are in many ways the most dangerous drivers of them all.
And for what purpose? Do you get a break on your car insurance rates if you impolitely refuse to move at a green light?
Speaking of forced politeness, if I’m in traffic and you want to turn out into stopped traffic in front of me, I’m OK with that if there's room. But JUST ONE OF YOU. I don’t have to let the entire Starbucks drive-thru line out in front of me on College Drive. I’m sure you’re a nice person, but I don’t like you that much.
And those are just the things that happen on a good day. Add in some rain? An accident four miles down the road? A pelican sitting on the LSU Lakes? Hellfire will rain down upon this town, and no one is getting anywhere. Hope you packed a snack!
This is my hometown and I love it with all of my heart — except for those of you who pull into the middle of the intersection when the light is clearly about to turn red and you’re just going to be blocking other drivers from moving
You know who you are.
Christina Stephens is a Baton Rouge native who tweets often, usually about LSU, her dog and south Louisiana. Follow her on Twitter, @CEStephens.