Sitting in traffic may be frustrating, but line jumpers cause tempers to rise

Published 8:18 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Have you ever sat in a long line of traffic as state troopers, firemen and other first responders clear an accident?

I have a few times and did so Monday, more than five miles south of the state line. I suspect a goodly number of other folks from Picayune and Pearl River County were in that long line of traffic. In fact, from some of the car and pickup truck tags I saw, I know there were.

Genie’s car was in the shop so I had to go down and pick her up at school. I knew the wreck had occurred just north of the state line and I knew it was a bad one. Already we had heard that at least one person had died in the accident, which occurred at about 2:30 p.m. I passed the long, double-lane of north-bound stalled vehicles as I traveled south. Folks were out of their cars and pickups visiting with one another while waiting for the wreck to be cleared.

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I shuddered, both at the thought of the deadly accident and the tragedy it was causing some families and at the prospect of having to wait in the long line in my journey back north.

However, by the time I passed the accident and the backed-up traffic, about an hour-and-half had passed since it occurred. We had a couple of errands to run after I picked up Genie, so surely the wreck would be cleared and the traffic rolling by the time we headed north.

Wrong again.

Shortly after 4 p.m. we queued up. I knew I had made a mistake by not going east on Interstate 12 to Mississippi 603 after I came to the bottom of the tall bridge over the East Pearl at Pearl River, La. I quickly saw the tail of the line after I made the slight curve at the bottom of the bridge. My only saving grace was that I had a book in the truck and could read as I waited. Also, the day was relatively cool, so I didn’t really miss the air conditioner after I turned off the engine and we opened the windows to catch the breezes. I just hoped I wouldn’t have to wait until after dark for the traffic to start moving again.

I’m not sure how much time passed before the line started moving again, and really moving rather rapidly at first. We passed the sign telling us it was five miles to the state line. Shortly after that the line again came to a halt, then began the creep. You know what I mean. The traffic moves up a little, then stops again and this continues until finally, about an hour later you pass the site of the accident.

I didn’t enjoy being in that line. No one does. You wouldn’t be on the highway if you didn’t have some place to go and some place you expected to be long before you finally get there once you get hung up by such a situation.

There are some folks in this long line, though, who have no manners; who think they are so much more important than everyone else in the line. They start line jumping. They get on the shoulder of the road, if it is wide enough, and try to pass as many people as they can, expecting someone closer to the front of the line to be kind and let them break in.

I had an unusual situation Monday. One pickup ahead of me were two other pickups that decided they weren’t going to stand for this. They moved onto the shoulder and held their places, blocking a few of the line jumpers who must have been somewhat frustrated that someone was going to do their best to make the mind their manners.

I remember two in particular. One a gray truck with Pearl River County tags with a fairly young fellow driving it who had a shaved head and a flashy ear ring. Another was a young woman with a Hancock County tag in an LSU tag frame. She saw a few line jumpers go down the slope and pass the two trucks blocking the way and kept thinking she would try that, but kept thinking better of it. In that one way she probably was wise. The ones that went down the slope were large pickups that were better equipped for such a trick.

My main regret is that the guy immediately in front of me let both of these line jumpers back in the line when the two blockers had to move over because of a bridge and then they jumped to the next lane in their effort to speed on their way.

I don’t know if there is a law against such activity, but if there isn’t, there should be and the fines should be really substantial, several hundred dollars at least. I guess the main problem would be enforcing it, though. All the police officers are concentrating on clearing the accident that caused the delay.

Oh, well. It’s a thought anyway.

There are few things that anger me more than these line jumpers. I won’t let them in. I wish other drivers would force them to hold their places on the side until everyone else has passed as well. If no one let them back in the line and they were forced to wait until everybody else had cleared the accident site, that might reduce at least the amount of line jumping that takes place. I doubt it would stop all these self-important, ill-mannered jerks, though.

I really appreciate the drivers of the two trucks who tried to block the way. They had the right idea. Keeping a book in the truck to have something to pass the time while waiting also is a good idea.