For once, there was no construction, nor orange cone or inert hard-hatted worker in sight.
Before me were two lanes. The right, a turning lane, led onto York Street and downtown; the left went straight on to Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway. A long line of cars waited to turn right. The route to the Gardiner was relatively clear.
At least, it should have been.
There was a pest blocking the way. This driver wanted to turn right, but he wasn’t interested in waiting like those other suckers. He drove along in the left lane until he almost reached the front of the line. Then he clicked on his turn signal and poked the front of his car into the right lane.
The driver then sat there, light blinking, holding the rest of us hostage, while he waited for someone in the right lane to crack and let him in. The stunt eventually worked. Off he drove, the remainder of his day no doubt spent parking in handicapped spots, short-changing baristas and scooping change from the cups of the unsuspecting needy.
Behold, a Creeper.
This species of driver, one of the most irritating on the road sneaks up along a line of cars and inserts himself into the front, hoping nobody decides to ram him – a CN Tower-sized middle finger to the thin veil of decency that covers our motorized morality.
Most people don’t have the gall to cut in line at the movies or in the concession line at a hockey game. The risk of being cursed out (or worse) is too great in such close personal proximity. But when you put them in the safe, secure steel interior of an automobile, they grow bold. Their selfish side materializes, like a lame ghostly decoration on Halloween. That’s why creeping has reached epidemic levels on our roadways. It’s caused by the steady decline of our commutes. The worse the commute, the greater the temptation to throw all decency aside and creep your way to the front of the line.
As much as I detest the creepers, I have almost as much contempt for the chumps who let them in. They reward the antisocial behaviour, reinforcing creeping as a viable option, allowing it to spread like a bad case of the Norwalk Virus.
I’m actually a pretty mellow driver. I have zero expectations of my fellow motorists, but when I see someone cruise down a line – a line I’ve been stuck in for fifteen minutes – and they casually drift into pole position because some do-gooder wants to “pay it forward,” I lose my mind. I can understand letting a creeper in because he’s holding up a whole bunch of other drivers, I get that, but make him sweat a little. Humiliate him a bit. Do something; don’t just roll over.
Of course, not every attempt to creep into line is premeditated. We’ve all missed a direction and found ourselves in the wrong lane, needing to slide over. You can spot those drivers because, although we can’t hear them, we can see them wincing apologetically, begging and imploring us to let them into line. They’re reluctant creepers. You can spot them, and it’s fine to give them a break.
But not the other kind.
For some people, it’s human nature to treat other humans like crap if it makes their lives a little easier. The creeper is like the guy who takes two parking spaces, the fellow who speeds up so you can’t pass him, the driver engrossed in her iPhone while traversing the highway.
All the rest of us can do is resolve to keep them out. Don’t encourage them. When a creeper tries to nose into line, close ranks and mouth the words, “You shall not pass!”