There are too many cars in Salt Lake City.
When did this fair city become a God damn parking lot at 8:30 in the morning? I must be crazy but it didn’t seem this bad six months ago. One could easily drive from Sugar House to West Valley City without packing provisions for a transatlantic voyage. It’s become a joke and I’m not laughing.
But I know what you’re saying: “Hey Benny! You’re not from Utah. You’re a Nevada guy.” Well, you got me there. I grew up in Las Vegas and went to college in Reno—home means Nevada to me. But a happy accident in 1999 brought me to my new home when a tax-cheat and securities defrauder and his girlfriend invited me to move to Utah. Turned out to be the best decision in my life. Not only did I meet my beautiful wife, befriend the best people on the planet and get to see Pearl Jam at the Maverick Center in 2009, I somehow carved out a pretty decent life for myself.
That is until I get behind the wheel of a car.
For some reason, Utah drivers are born distracted. I blame the large families in the Beehive State and advances in modern technology. When every Britney, Britnee and Britneiiey has a minivan filled with kids and 43 video screens all playing Madagascar 4: A New Hope and she’s trying to change diapers and drive at the same time, you know we have serious problems. That’s why we should all be driving trucks. When I was a kid, we’d get lobbed into the bed of the truck and drive from Vegas to Scottsdale. Not only did we not have tablets to bury our faces in, we didn’t have water. Nevada turns children into adults fast. Utahns are as soft as seal blubber when it comes to piloting a vehicle. It’s just willy-nilly, wishy-washy, don’t-give-a-heck about getting from Point A to Point B as long as Jesus takes the wheel and I can finish eating my chili fries. Or worse, they drive like their fueled by Monster Energy drinks and meth treating the 201 as their personal Mad Max: Fury Road.
Is it too much to ask for a happy medium?
Second off, don’t you think it’s about time we stop bragging about Utah? Things were better when the world thought we were a bunch of backwater polygamists. They kept their distance and only thought about moving to Utah when they watched Fletch. When did the floodgates open? Was it after the 2002 Winter Olympics? Did Robert Redford personally reach out to all of America and let them know that Utah is a bitchin’ state? Whoever let the cat out of the bag about Utah being quietly the best place to live in America deserves an open face slap delivered by Mike Lee after he hears Clinton wins the election.
Keep it to yourself. The right to live in Utah should be like a secret handshake. Too many of you guy-dude-bros are yapping about us and this super exclusive club is going to be filled with too many people from Michigan or Australia.
What’s up with every third car having license plates from all corners of the planet? I can’t drive through a Crown Burger without seeing plates from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Arizona and those phony-baloney British Colombia plates. Are these people even paying taxes in this state? I get that every person in Vermont and New Hampshire moves to Utah because their skiing sucks and we have the best mountains in the world, but why in the Sam Hill is everybody from North Carolina clogging up the freeways? Don’t they have their own state to ruin? Unless I see a state tax return for the last THREE years taped to your back windshield, stay on the city roads. Got it? Even as a blue-collar loser, I’ve paid more than my fair share into the tax pool and all I want to see on the road are those God awful orange and blue plates that look like a Broncos fan raped an Ansel Adams photo when I’m trying to get to work so I can pay more state taxes.
In fairness, maybe traffic has always been this bad. Working bartender hours for almost 20 years meant I avoided most of it heading into work and only had to avoid the drunks I served on my drive home. But now that I’m a working stiff, I can’t stop thanking the Big Guy upstairs that I’m addicted to podcasts and sitting on my bony butt waiting for people to move it along.
Which brings me to my biggest beef with Utah drivers.
If you are at the front of the line for a left hand turn, you have a moral responsibility to be ready to move once the light changes. Let me repeat that: you have a MORAL responsibility. You’re not allowed to check your phone, suck on your metal vaper dildo, fuss with the radio, touch up your makeup, nibble on a breakfast burrito, finish knitting a scarf, work on a Sudoku, balance a checkbook, wave at strangers, pick your nose or anything else except lead the pack once the left arrow turns green.
Don’t be the problem—be the solution.
You’re the sergeant and the buck privates behind you are dutifully waiting for your command to lead us into battle. So lead, you chicken livered bastard. Pretend for a millisecond that you are not the only unique, beautiful snowflake on the road and drive like you have a purpose. And if your purpose is to clog up the arteries of Salt Lake’s roads then STAY HOME. We don’t need you.
But I guess that’s the tradeoff for living in Utah. You get to enjoy the mountains, RSL, world-class fishing, Salt Lake summers, Nachoritos from Alberto’s on 500 South, Red Butte concerts, cocktails at the Bongo, Fairmont Park and the occasional Kyle Goon article in the Salt Lake Tribune. So if I have to deal with a bunch of morons on the road, it’s a deal I’m willing to make.
Ben Raskin is a communications writer at the Pill Mill and bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday and Thursday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. He never had these problems with traffic when he drove the Tacoma.