The Big Squeeze

Project Neon. That’s what they’ve dubbed the $900 million, 3+ year project reinventing the Spaghetti Bowl in Downtown Las Vegas. The collision of I-15 and I-95, the Spaghetti Bowl is a commuter’s nightmare.

Project Neon has been adding delays, lane closures, even ramp closures to our commute since 2016. Nothing has had quite the impact, however, as the most recent phase of the project. They call it The Big Squeeze. It takes I-95, formerly 4 lanes in each direction, and squeezes it down to 2 lanes, side by side. The 2 Northbound 95 lanes have been moved on top of the same footprint that Southbound 95 used to cover.

At night, it feels like a round of Rainbow Road in Mario Kart. You fly through at 50, 60, 70 mph, headlights from Southbound in your eyes, other drivers trying not to bump into you and throwing bananas in your path!

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As I enter The Big Squeeze heading north, I always take a deep breath. It’s Las Vegas–other drivers are not to be trusted. Hands at 10 and 2. Diligently scanning the road ahead of me, my rearview mirror, and my side mirrors. Monitoring my speed. Watching for traffic cones blown into the lanes by the insufferable wind we’ve been experiencing this spring. Waiting. Moving. Carefully and swiftly moving through the obstacle course because I know the end is in sight.

The road loosens up near the end of the construction area. Lanes are guided back to where they belong. Cars spread out, feeling the freedom of the upcoming 7 available lanes. And insanity breaks loose.

Motorcycles zoom into the carpool lane, carelessly passing in between cars 5 times their size. Semi trucks butt up against the car in front of them. Drivers, feeling freedom, speed up and slow down erratically, changing lanes with nary a signal, causing millions of close calls every single day.

I get caught up in it, too. I exhale and hit the gas. And my old car gives me everything it has to try to speed up while driving up a hill.

What are we doing? Did we completely forget the lessons we learned in The Big Squeeze? We forgot how to drive, how to watch out for others, and how not to mow other cars down!

Isn’t that like life, though? We go through a time of pressure, of waiting, of feeling the big squeeze on our life. Our finances are tight for a year as we deal with mechanic issues. We’re waiting for that big break at work. We spend time battling a disease. During that time, we learn lessons about how to live safely: We save our money and stop spending it on useless items. We take classes to better our skills. We spend time with family and friends.

What happens when the pressure is relieved? When the car is fixed and paid off, when we get the promotion, when we’ve conquered the disease? We have 2 options:

We run willy-nilly through life, careless of what happens to others we encounter, forgetting the lessons we learned while in the midst of struggle. We stop learning and growing or abandon those around us, as we simply move on in life.

OR

We learn. We grow. We figured out what the speed limit is and now we’re driving it, enjoying the view, continuing to move forward in life. Finding the excitement in that freedom by not going back to who we were “before.” Allowing life to change us and help us grow in an incredible way.

What’s your choice? Will you fly over to the carpool lane and put everyone’s life at risk? Or will you wisely move forward, actively anticipating your next adventure, excitedly bringing others with you?

 

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