Have you ever thought about how much traffic lights influence your commute? I bet you have.
Traffic lights might have even figured into how you originally laid out your commute route.
I bet you know every single stoplight on your route by heart. You know exactly where it is, and precisely how long it takes for each one to cycle from red to green to yellow and back again.
You know the vehicle traffic at each light, and whether there are ever breaks in the traffic flow that allow you to ease through between light cycles (not that you would ever do that).
You know those spots where you would never dare to creep out into the intersection early because cars push the yellow and even bolt across the street as the right flashes to red.
You possess an intimate awareness of how each light’s pattern fits into your overall commute. If you get through this light going X miles per hour you can make it through this other intersection before the light shifts to red and you are obligated to pause for 50, 49, 48…
When that happens, you impatiently wait with a foot down while the seconds tick by until you can set off again to resume your stoplight dance.
At times, my commute takes on a dance-like quality, as I move easily to and fro with my traffic lights. Sometimes it’s as though I’ve been thrown in a mosh pit, and I herk and jerk my way around, with an occasional stray elbow getting thrown into my face. Still other days, I feel like I’m at a mellow show at the 9:30 Club, with my head bobbing steadily as I mingle with my environment.
It’s funny how powerfully these inanimate sentries influence our commutes. As I ride, I see others who are familiar with “my” stoplights. They know them as well as I do.
As we ride along in silence (because there seems to be some strange commuter code that we not interact with each other) I wonder how they would define it.
Would they call it a dance? A duel? A drag race? Do they just see a stoplight as another element on the obstacle course they call their commute?
I would love to know, but instead I stay quiet and keep my eye out for my next dance partner.