Well, let’s face it: You think of yourself as a real estate professional, but if you measure your time by the activities you perform, interacting with customers and clients might only be second on your list. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that secretly, you’re a professional driver. And finally there’s a book for you.
Slate transportation columnist Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) (Vintage Books, 2009) may have a pedestrian title, but when you start reading, the rubber quickly hits the road. We take our time behind the wheel for granted, and Vanderbilt opens up our blind spots to full view. What does it take to communicate while we’re driving? Why does the other lane always move faster? How do traffic engineers (yes, there is such a thing) manipulate us while we drive? What do those endless ribbons of steel on our streets and highways have in common with ants … or grains of rice?
Vanderbilt eases us into his lane by suggesting that traffic is the original social networking. It may not have Like buttons and retweets, but it has a vocabulary all its own nonetheless, never quite as obvious as we think it is. We have a few lights and a horn designed to be startling at best and obnoxious at worst. After that, whether we’re zooming along or crawling into merged lanes, all we can do is gesture with these mobile machines, hoping the drivers around us guess our needs—a lane change, more space around our vehicles. Continue reading »