I have been to traffic Hell, and its name is Dallas.
Starting off our long distance move, Vess and I decided to switch off our driving duties according to the gas tank. We filled up, one would drive until the tank was almost empty, we would stop, fill up again, switch drivers… wash, rinse, repeat. One day and two sore asses later, we decided that we would switch places every 3 hours instead. This seemed like a good solution, except that it seemed that any time a huge city came up, it was me behind the wheel… not to mention it was usually rush hour, nighttime, or in the case of today’s subject, both.
We had to drive through many cities on our cross-country trek: Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, Shreveport, El Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, even Phoenix wasn’t that bad. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for the clusterfuck that is the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
It started out innocently enough. Traffic on the outskirts had definitely picked up, but it was still manageable. Once in the heart of the city, you hit all kinds of construction, shoulders are closed, 2 lanes turn into 4, then 6, then a million. People are rushing to get home as the sun is going down.
I don’t think it would have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that I was towing this…
I originally had purchased a tow bar. The only reason I returned it and rented a tow dolly was because I was informed by my Dad that it had brakes on it and would therefore be safer. Yes, it was 1,000 pounds heavier and yes, it was $200 more and yes, it would require more gas and yes, after I used it there would be nothing to show for it – but it would be safer. There was only one catch: it had no brakes.
A fact that not a single person in Dallas seemed to give two shits about.
All of a sudden, those closed shoulders lined with cement blocks two inches from the edge of the road looked like death traps. With the play in the steering that our car has, just keeping it on the road had become a chore. I wanted a cig but I was afraid to take my hands off of the wheel. Every time a big rig truck passed and its wind started to push and pull me, my ass clenched. Even changing lanes had become a dance with death. One time, I signalled to switch lanes and I got a flash of bright lights from the car behind me in the lane where I was trying to go. Everywhere else in the world, that is the signal to say that it is ok to get over now. Apparently it means something else in Dallas. The car slammed on his brakes, layed on the horn and sped by me in another lane while screaming about how stupid people from my state were. I was too tense to even give him a response.
I knew things were getting serious when my GPS didn’t even seem to know what the fuck was going on. Once we got into the heart of the city, my hands were locked in a death-grip at ten and two. My teeth started to hurt from clenching my jaw so hard. Of course, this was the moment that my iPod’s shuffle feature seemed to play the most nerve-racking and intense music it could find. I could tell that I was seconds away from a panic attack. Vess knew, too. She quickly turned the radio off. It seemed every time I was about to lose it, she would throw some calming words my way.
“I want out of here!”
“You’re doing good, babe!”
“This shit never ends!”
“Just a little longer”
An hour and forty-five minutes later, we started to finally get out of the city. My back was drenched in sweat, my arms, jaw and neck ached, and I was shaking. I felt like I had run a marathon. Finally, the tense silence was broken by me turning the radio back on. I looked at the clock. My three-hour shift was over. It felt like a millennium.
“Time to switch. Let’s find a gas station.” I said under my breath, almost inaudible.
I slowly plucked a cigarette from its pack, pulled it to my lips and brought fire to the tip. I took several long, deep puffs. It was the best cigarette I had ever had.
The experience alone has single-handedly altered our future travel plans. We will not be going back the same way.