Typically, whenever I visit my old stomping grounds, I fly into whichever Northern Virginia airport has the most availability (usually DCA), and then I’m at the mercy of whomever is willing to give me rides or let me borrow cars, in order to do my business or get from point A to B on my own volition.
Over the span of the last year or so, be it for a myriad of circumstances, I’ve grown really weary over the notion of traveling in and out of the greater Washington D.C. area airports. Old convention doesn’t seem to apply like it used to. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a trip where I didn’t get tragically locked in place in some leg of my trip. Demand to or from D.C. is unpredictable and completely without logic, and I’ve had flights that looked open fill up at the drop of a hat due to weather, or some giant student group being unaccounted for until it was time to board the plane.
Needless to say, I took an opportunity to try something new during my last visit up to Virginia, because in theory it seemed like a very good idea: fly into Richmond, pick up rental car, drive to NOVA, Charlottesville, NOVA, Richmond, and leave from Richmond. Richmond has direct flights to and from Atlanta, is a smaller airport with a smaller demand to and from Atlanta, and with a rental car, I wouldn’t have to inconvenience anyone for rides, or take time away from them.
In the end, it turned out to be a pretty good trip: I made it to Richmond in one try, and in spite of a car rental reservation snafu, I actually managed to come out slightly better with a daily rate. I saw my friend sing the National Anthem at one game, I collected bobbleheads with other friends and another game. My extended family was clearly too shell-shocked at my appearance at a family function to bother lecturing me, I spent some time with both my parents, as well as my sister and her kids, and I left from Richmond on my first try with no difficulty.
Everything about my trip went pretty well; except for one thing:
Having to drive in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It’s the worst place in the country to drive.
In the past, I defended Virginia driving, because it’s where I learned to drive, and my general upbringing in the Commonwealth made me a little defensive to those who thought to criticize them, regardless of their logic.
But things have changed. I’ve lived in Georgia for the last eleven years now, and it’s beyond the point where I have the same attachment to Virginia as I once did. Furthermore, the Commonwealth has apparently decided to become the state with some of the highest and most severe penalties for any sort of automotive moving violation (read: speeding) in the country.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for attempting to curb dangerous driving, reducing aggressive speeding as well as trying to make a little bit of revenue. But Virginia has apparently gone a little overboard with how zealous the entire state is about enforcing all things cars, and what’s left is an entire state filled with drivers who are so scared to drive, in fear of penalization, that they themselves become risks on the roads, and more passively dangerous than those that would be considered aggressive.
Basically, the Commonwealth of Virginia has become a prime example of what happens to an entire state when it’s been whipped into a state of submission and fear of speeding tickets.
It didn’t take long for my driving nightmare to begin, because on my entire trip up I-95 between Richmond and NOVA was an endless trek of getting stuck behind some asshat cruising the approximate speed limit in the left lane, not moving out of the way when they had countless opportunities, resulting in everyone being forced to “illegally” pass them on the right, out of necessity, not aggression. And then the scenario would repeat itself time after time after time, until I finally got off the highway in Woodbridge, because I couldn’t stand it anymore, and there was a Wawa that I wanted to go to.
The thing was, every time I passed Driving Miss Daisy in the left lane, I noticed that every single time, they had Maryland plates. Naturally, the native Virginian in me chalks it up to Marylanders being Marylanders, which is to say completely inept, but I felt a little naïve to believe that such issues were because of all the Maryland drivers trolling Virginia roads, because as my trip went on, it wasn’t exclusive to just Maryland retards.
Basically, what this entire gripe post boils down to is the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t have left lane laws, and they desperately need them.
Sure, I had plenty of agitation from the legions of geriatrics and stereotypical slow Asian/Indian drivers that clog up Northern Virginia streets, but when the day is over, it’s all the left lane cruisers that made me feel kind of ragey. It didn’t matter if I was on I-95 going north or south, or when I was going to and from Charlottesville on US-29, all these lengthy drives that I normally enjoy immersing myself in music and my own thoughts, were all ruined by legions of completely oblivious drivers chugging along in left lanes, oblivious to common road courtesies that aren’t law in Virginia, but really should be, causing drivers like me to have remain vigil, and incapable of enjoying a relaxing drive.
After four days of driving around asphalt hell in Virginia, I reached a tipping point. Slammed in I-95 traffic heading towards Richmond, caused by absolutely nothing other than people randomly slowing down to the speed limit in every single lane, causing massive backup avalanches behind them, I finally decided that I was through defending the roads of Virginia from those who claim it to be an unkosher place to drive. The roads are not the same Virginia where I got my driving chops on, and are instead streets paved with eggshells that everyone is afraid of, and alters their behavior for, regardless of the fact that by being overly cautious, they’re often times creating more dangerous scenarios for their fellow drivers.
Throughout all the traveling I’ve done, especially on my baseball travels, I can say that I’ve driven around a lot of places now. When it comes to a singular city, I can still say that Miami is probably the worst city in America to drive a car around in, but overall, the state of Florida isn’t the worst; at least people will get out of the left lane to do their cruising. No, the dubious distinction of worst state to drive in, most definitely belongs to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I don’t know how my friends that live up there do it.