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I-95

January 16, 2015

Interstate Highway 95 can best be described as speed and stupidity with no redeeming value whatsoever.

I recently decided to take a car trip to Georgia and Florida to both celebrate my wedding anniversary with my wife and to visit her aunt. We left our home early and proceeded into South Carolina on Interstate 26 in the pre-dawn hours of New Year’s Day. I’ve driven I-26 many times and I have found it distasteful but tolerable. This mullet highway is filled with pickup trucks, hard working locals and an even number of tourists from other states. It’s no picnic, but it is doable in the end.

When I took the off-ramp onto Interstate 95, the whole world changed. The relative calm that I had left behind in North Carolina was immediately lost in a blaze of 95 MPH traffic. The posted speed limit on this bizzaro world freeway is 70 MPH although I doubt most would bother to notice. After negotiating hundreds of miles of the criminally stupid, the four lane quick changers and a variety of cell phone distracted barbarians from every state in the union, I finally limped off the roadway to my first destination on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Whew…. safe at home plate, at least for a day!

Jekyll Island is slow paced and I immediately liked it for that quality. Everyone was going to where they wanted to be but without the rudeness and speed that I had found on the trip down. We soaked up the slowness like a Mint Julep and settled in for a day of relaxation and fun. But the inevitable was looming on the pavement miles to our west. As we concluded our stay, I got back on I-95 and headed south to Florida.

The highway has been under construction in and around Jacksonville for as far as my memory serves. Either the folks down there love pouring concrete forever or there is just too much work and too little money. In either event, traveling through Jacksonville is a nightmare on a street that’s not named Elm. The local population has to be one of the worst bunch of drivers on the face of the planet. Everything goes…. except of course a bit of driving skill and common sense. I was surprised to see that one could actually drive at all with blacked-out windows and a cell phone in each hand. Welcome to Florida and the miracle of the duh state. Being determined, I pushed on to my second destination in Ormond Beach and paused there for a couple of days. Again, I needed the respite from the interstate.

Ultimately upon our return, we decided to drive straight through to home without stopping in Georgia because of impending bad weather. When I first learned to drive I was taught to slow down in rain and darkness as a safety precaution. Apparently, those pages of the driving manual are missing on the east coast. As I struggled back up the coast again I watched impatient cretins weave in and out of traffic in a weak ass attempt to get “ahead.” I would characterize the trip back home as definitely scary but also disheartening.

As the miles churned on, the highway became a metaphor on wheels for what America has become: fat, rude, stupid and self centered. Cars would come up to my bumper at near 100 MPH and then swerve suddenly to grab that golden chance to get a car length ahead of the crowd. Where were all the police my tax dollars buy I wondered. I was left only to wonder at who were indeed the stupidest drivers on this highway. Were they the impatient old folks from Quebec with overloaded rigs reminiscent of the Jodes? Were they the sniffling snow birds speeding aimlessly in flocks between New Jersey, New York and Florida? Were they the portly Florida yuppies who find thrill seeking in changing lanes 20 times in a mile? In the end, I figured it for a toss-up and just sighed as the vehicles whizzed by me because, after all, I was only doing 80 myself.

Exhausted and weary from what most considered a game, I got off in Saint Matthews, South Carolina for some gas and food. Good lord, I’ve rarely made such a mistake. Getting the car fueled was no big deal when you consider that I had no fewer than three other cars “ace me out” for the pump that I was trying to pull into. No biggie…. rudeness comes with every fill-up on I-95. The true splendor was saved for our visit to the attached Arby’s Restaurant. It began to pour buckets of rain but that did not daunt the fat teenagers standing outside fiddling with their cell phones. I honestly didn’t understand their ability to text without windshield wipers on their phones. We ordered and sat down between tables of raucous, rude and incurably stupid fat countrymen who were gobbling roast beef by the side and french fries by the very bucket. Aside from the experience being revolting, I mused at the taxpayer expense to provide medical attention to this absurd collection of unhealthy patrons of the meat mongers. One family in particular caught my eye. There was mama fat, papa fat and baby fat, the latter being a 200 pound child of perhaps nine years.

I found that I couldn’t take anymore of the floor show so I made my way to the restroom. One toilet was out of service as it had probably been crushed by one of the smaller guests. One was leaking water and one has feces on the floor and adjoining walls. Yes, apparently my fellow Americans literally can’t even wipe their asses. Was I upset? No, I was horrified that my country was on display in its decline in such a manner both on and off the road.

Miles later, I turned onto I-26 which leads to my country home in rural North Carolina. As I saw the last roaring, raging of the bunch leave the horizon for the north, I relaxed my grip on the wheel and thought of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Yes. there’s no place like home!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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2 Comments
  1. Whew, my experience hasn’t been that horrific, but then I haven’t driven beyond Jekyll Island in years…and Jekyll Island is truly a retreat place. Were you possibly just too observant of your fellow drivers? I know sometimes I just want to give up driving…but then I’ve almost given up on planes, so what is left? Trains and covered wagons?

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  2. Covered wagons? That’s a great idea. At least a Conestoga might stand a chance in the slow lane. I may try to rent one for our next trip down “hell’s alley.”

    Like

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