I arrive at work every day (well, Monday through Friday) at around 8am. I say around 8am because I have a lot of trouble leaving the house on time and for some reason traffic doesn’t disappear when I’m late. I have to drive through Redmond in order to get to my office, which is on the border of Redmond and Bellevue. This street I drive down when I get off the freeway is basically one of the main thoroughfairs for the Microsoft campuses. This means that every morning I get to drive to work surrounded by Microsoft employees (‘ahhh’ you think ‘now she’s getting to the point’) Yes, avid reader! I am getting to the point!
Let me tell you a little bit about Microsoft drivers (these are very broad generalizations and as such do not in any way imply that I personally know every driver I commute with. I don’t. What this does imply, however, is that there are definitely some things I have noticed and now it’s sharing time).
For the most part, they are an odd combination of stressed beyond belief and laid-back. For instance, they will tail-gate you to within an inch of your sanity for a mile down the road, flipping their hands and making entertaining contortions with their faces while you *gasp!* drive the speed limit, but then when they’re in front of you they will take as long as legally possible to make a right turn, essentially stopping traffic for at least a block.
Also, they think they’re very clever. Most Microsoft commuters drive home to either East or West of Redmond, which means that there is no traffic going North or South but boat-loads of traffic trying to go anywhere else. When turn-lanes are clogged and stopped, these clever genius’ will drive down the open lane next to the turn lane and then try to insert themselves strategically when the light turns green. This is a great idea in theory until it stops the open lane entirely while these clowns wait for the light. It’s a dumb idea and yet I see people doing it every day.
For the most part they dislike letting people into their lane. They see a blinker and that’s a cue for them to accelerate until the only difference between their car and the car of the person in front of them is the tiny little atoms of pollution emerging from the front car’s tail-pipe. This goes both ways. If they want to get into your lane they won’t bother with a turn-signal because they knows it’s useless here. They will, however, kamikaze their way into your lane, counting on the fact that since their car is more expensive than yours you’ll slam on your brakes rather than hit them.
For the most part this is nothing more than a snapshot of driving in the Seattle area. There’s really nothing Microsoft-driver-specific about what I mentioned above. The only thing that differentiates the Microsoft drivers from the rest of the passive-agressive Seattle drivers is their cars.
Passive aggressive driving takes on a whole new dimension when performed in a vintage Porsche or brand new Maserati. I understand that these people, overpaid they may be, worked hard for their cars. My question, however, is do they really need to use all 2 billion horsepower at their fingertips to get down the street? I’ve seen pedestrians and gardeners alike running for their lives in crosswalks because some middle-aged guy with a lead foot decides to do 60mph down a city street.
I am pretty sure that driving around Microsoft every day is aging me as well as jading me. I think nothing of cutting people off and tail-gating slow drivers is second nature. By the time I get home I am so stressed out from the commute that Wes just automatically plies me with vodka the minute I walk in.
I long for the day when all this will be a not-so-fond memory. Until then, however, I’m just going to have to continue to refine my defensive aggression driving techniques and pray for mercy on my poor commuter’s head.