Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Late Las Vegan

Okay, I admit it: I’m perpetually late. This is partly because I get so absorbed in what I’m doing that I fail to stop in enough time to get ready to leave my house. The rest of my tardiness is because I consistently underestimate how long it will take me to drive from one place to another. For many years, you could go any place in town in under 20 minutes. Now you can’t drive around the block in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, in the dark recess of my brain, I’m still operating on the 20 minute rule.

Take today, for instance. I had my writing group at 1:00, but for various reasons (phone calls, dogs, uncombed hair, etc.), didn’t leave until 12:40. According to the MapQuest crow, it’s 11.33 miles from my home to the center, and the drive takes approximately 16 minutes. (I assume that the crow was out at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday to make that time.) Anyway, I immediately ran into the first rule of Las Vegas driving: If you are in a hurry, everyone is going 10 miles under the speed limit. Conversely, if you are driving safely – or, God forbid, under the speed limit – everyone is passing you like they’re on the NASCAR circuit. Today, everyone was driving 30 miles an hour on the 45 m.p.h. Fort Apache/Rampart/Durango. (I’ve never learned why we give the same street as many different names as possible. Do our city planners intend for us to be confused?) As I joined the other NASCAR entrants determinedly navigating around the accelerator-challenged, I noticed that no one was using turn signals, not even me. Ooops. I made a mental note to stop that.

As I passed Summerlin Parkway, I slowed for a few minutes and kept my eyes peeled for any cops sitting at Bruce Trent Park. The driveways into the parking lot and sporting complex make a great place for a speed trap. After I saw no motorcycle units, I went back to cruising speed until just before Cheyenne. The police substation is just west of the intersection, so I thought I should slow down. It was 12:53 at that time.

Let me just reassure you that I wasn’t doing 60, or weaving in and out of traffic, or tail gating, or doing anything to induce road rage. I leave that sort of driving to my significant other. Although I was breaking the speed limit, I only did so mildly. Seriously. Really.

With five minutes left, I turned east on Craig. I was concentrating on getting green lights. I think I even spoke out loud to a few lights. “Turn green! You want to be green! Green green green!” Sadly, my positive green thinking had to stop for the school zone that slowed everyone to 25 mph, except for those who were only going 25 to begin with. Never mind that no children were present, nor would be for another two hours, the light demanded that we be alert and drive slowly for a few hundred feet.

After the school zone was over, I resumed dodging slow drivers as I sped toward Rainbow. When I made my left turn it was only 12:58; I think I hit the parking lot at 1:00 precisely. This made me only mildly late. And I must point out that… it only took me 20 minutes.

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