Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rolla's roundabouts make me want to weep

For awhile, there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in my car when I tried to navigate the roundabouts. There was no weeping, although sometimes I’ve felt like crying.
In my first encounter, I realized the “dogbone” at exit 184 wasn’t completed and was closed to traffic, so I turned around, drove down Kingshighway to Highway 63 then to Highway E where I drove around that circle, took an exit and ended up turning around in the Church of Christ parking lot. Yes, I had taken the wrong turn off the circle. Go ahead, call me a moron. That’s exactly what I said to myself.
I made my way back to the circle, overlooked the on-ramp and ended up going back to Highway 63, so I could drive to the other Rolla exit, the one without a roundabout (so far). There, I got on the interstate with no problem. I was late to work, of course.
For several days, I continued to drive to the Highway 63 exit and then head west to my day job in St. Robert.
Then one morning, I decided I’d try it again. By this time, the “dogbone” was open, so I drove confidently, entered the traffic circle and soon found myself unhappily motoring toward St. Louis on the interestate. I exited at HIghway E and drove very slowly around that circle, finally managing to find the on-ramp. I was late to work again.
For several days, I continued to go to the Highway E roundabout and to get on the interstate. I became familiar with that circle and was able to drive it with no problem.
Then I was sick one weekend and doctored myslf with numerous over-the-counter remedies. I felt better the following Monday morning, and I figured I would try that doggone “dogbone” again. I discovered that for some mysterious reason I couldn’t find a way to get on the interstate, so I decided I would just drive old Route 66 until I got to Doolittle. For some mysterious reason, I couldn’t figure out how to get onto old Route 66.
I figured I was still feeling the effects of my self-medication, so I said “to heck with this,” or words to that effect, and I went home, called my manager and told him I was feeble-minded, couldn’t get through the roundabouts and to put me down for a sick day. I still haven’t lived that down.
Well, I continued to avoid the “dogbone” for several more days, and then I decided to try it again. I left for work early to give myself time to figure it out. I drove very slowly and managed to go through one circle, cross the interstate and go around the second circle and then head west on the interstate.
Now, why did I have so much trouble over the course of several weeks?
Well, for one thing, I go to work very early. I try to get on the interstate at about 5:15 a.m. It’s dang-gone dark at that time of day; plus, my eyes aren’t what they used to be.
For another, the concept of driving around in circles, going in the opposite direction of where I want to be is foreign to me, and it confused me.
Third, speaking of foreign, the circle is a European contrivance. I’m no fan of Europe, so I fight it in my mind. I guess that affects my driving.
Finally, I’m just old, set in my ways and don’t like to accept new ideas. I don’t find new ideas any better than the old ones, generally speaking, and in the case of the roundabouts, specifically speaking.
Nevertheless, I have just about conquered the stupid traffic circles and feel pretty confident. They don’t make me late for work any more.
They almost killed me one day, though.
On my re-entry to Rolla recently, as I drove up the eastound off-ramp at the 184 exit, a big SUV started heading down the ramp straight at me. I got as far to the right as I could. The SUV did the same. As we passed one another, I looked over at the driver.
It was another old geezer. He had apparently been confused by the roundabout and was headed the wrong way down the one-way ramp. I kept my eye on him in my rear-view mirror and saw him get on the interstate and head east, the correct way, but probably the opposite direction he wanted.
They say the roundabouts are a big improvement. I remain unpersuaded.

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