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Traffic Jams Result When 'Nice' Drivers Can't Figure Out the Zipper Merge

traffic jam

One way to perceive the psychology of a place is to examine how its residents drive. The wife and I, some time before we were married, once took a trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota. We were astounded by the difficulty rural drivers seemed to have with the town's relatively urban traffic controls. One gal paused at a stop sign and waited for it to turn green. No doubt unaccustomed to seeing much cross-traffic in out-state townships, drivers were reluctant to proceed if a vehicle could be seen approaching from the horizon.

We mocked our hosts then. But we have our own oddities, even in the booming metro area of Minnesota's Twin Cities. The people of our state are known nationwide for their "Minnesota nice," generous smiles, seemingly sincere greetings, eager accommodations and such. In truth, we are no more good-natured than anyone else. We just mask our resentment in passive aggression. In traffic, that translates to backups whenever two lanes merge into one.

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