We moved to Gwinnett County in June 2013. I’ve been driving in the metro area since earning my Learner’s License in the mid-1970s. I thought I knew all about Atlanta traffic; however, Gwinnett County occupies a hellish place of its own.
We quickly learned to gauge time rather than distance for commutes. In previous places, a 10 mile trip translated into 10-15 minutes’ drive-time. The distance-time law does not apply in this alternate universe. If the ten mile trip involves Highway 316 or 78 during rush hour, then pack emergency supplies. Don’t even get me started on Buford Highway or Sugarloaf Parkway.
Gwinnett County ranks as the Godzilla of traffic monsters in Georgia. Various factors contribute to the congestion. Quantity produces its own bad quality. Too many people living in too small an area trying to travel the same roads at the same time provides a recipe for disaster.
Our county also serves as a melting pot for many different cultures and nationalities. The rules of the road vary greatly in different parts of the world. For some, traffic lights and stop signs apparently serve more as a suggestion than a rule.
Human sinfulness plays its part. Egotistical people naturally assume their own self-importance. In a hurry, they tailgate, swerve, switch lanes, blow horns, gesture, and cut in line.
In the pulpit, I have confessed to the congregation that Gwinnett County traffic tests my Christian faith. I would like to say the ordeal has tempered my faith to produce patience and kindness . . . yes, that is what I would LIKE to say! Even when I successfully resist Road Rage, however, Street Stress still takes its toll.
So I’ve devised a few strategies to survive Gwinnett traffic. I hope you find them helpful.
Breathe. Breathe in and breathe out. Feel the breath in your stomach, solar plexus, lungs, throat, and nose. In Hebrew (ruah) and Greek (pneuma), the words for “breath” also mean “wind” and “spirit.” Think about the dual meanings of the word “inspiration.” Focusing on breathing calms the body and soul.
Traffic lights abound on our highways and byways. During rush hour, commuters often get to see the same light change multiple times. When you stop, stop to pray. Use the red light as a reminder to say a quick prayer. Or recite a memorized verse of Scripture.
Use imaginative thinking and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the person who stops and starts and stops again just moved to town and doesn’t know his way. The older woman driving 35 in the 55 mph zone could be your grandmother. The person tailgating your bumper might have a sick child in the backseat. The moron who just cut you off attends your church!
My last resort technique sounds a bit bizarre but it works for me. When I get into the car, I visualize three “Idiot Cards” sitting on my dashboard. During the commute, I amuse myself by awarding the cards to deserving drivers! For some reason, this helps keep me calm.
Gwinnett Country continues to grow, and the traffic will only get worse. When circumstances remain the same, it’s the person who needs to change. Don’t let driving drive you crazy—let my tips help!