[Expanded to include more complaining]
I’d like to give you my opinion about traffic updates, especially the ones broadcast on morning radio shows. They piss me off. Somehow I believe that whatever the person is telling me is going to be accurate, but they never are. It seems like these people are five to 10 minutes behind on their broadcast, if they even mention the road I’m on. Today I had the opportunity to test my theory.
So the lady, who is supposed to provide valuable information to the metro area’s commuters, told me there was an accident at Lyndale. While in the back of my head I knew she was going to be wrong, I still decided to take her advice, so I exited about a mile or less before Lyndale. As I was leaving the highway, I could see a cop car with its lights on. However, there was no other sign of any kind of activity. This tells me that the accident had been cleared. I started whispering under my breath, “Ridiculous! Lindsey, why did you listen to her? Her kind is never right — ever! What made you think this time would be any different? Now we’re going to hit every single red light from here to France Ave. Damn the traffic updates lady, damn her straight to hell!” Since I’d already foolishly taken the advice of the lady, who I now believe has a job description that asks her to just talk on the air to kill time while the show’s hosts are going to the bathroom, I was committed to taking the side road and knew that I was in for an annoying commute of slow drivers whose crappy timing will inadvertently cause me to stop at every red light. And they did.
But I want to know how this lady, and the rest of her kind, get this job and keep it. What is the interview process like? My guess is that it’s some kind of game show where a bunch of random people are competing for a job. In order to win the game, you must say the names of all the major highways in the metro area in some way. There are bonus points for naming suburbs that these highways actually intersect.
Host: Welcome back, folks, to “I Want to be Your Traffic Reporter!” We’re down to our final two contestants, Kimberly and Jonathan. Both made it through our first round: Metro Area Map Drawing, where each contestant had to create something that would pass as a map of Minneapolis-St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs. And by “pass,” we mean it had a bunch of lines crossing over one another. That took us into round two, where each contestant had to stand in front of the map, move their arms around the map’s “streets” mimicking and describing the morning commute, all while keeping a straight face even though the words coming out were lies. Our contestants worked really hard to get here — let’s give them a round of applause!
For our final round, which will determine the winner of “I Want to be Your Traffic Reporter,” our contestants will each have 20 seconds to give a “mock” traffic report. Since we want it to be as realistic as possible, our contestants will just make it up as they go, with no actual video or check-in on real traffic — just like in the real world, folks! Each contestant will be awarded points based on the number of highways, suburbs and other traffic reporting lingo they use. Here we go. Kimberly’s up first.
Kimberly: Good morning, KDUM listeners, this is Kimberly with a look at your morning commute. Things are slow moving in the Plymouth area where it looks like 494 is backed up all the way to Rockford Road. If you’re heading…a direction on that….roadway….um….you’ll be in for a long sit…
Host [in an aside just to the audience]: Kimberly is not looking good. I have a feeling it’s going to get rough.
Kimberly: There are…cars….and trucks…on…35W heading northbound that are…heading northbound and doing it quite nicely. It looks like the interchange at 77 is freezing up due to some bottlenecking from an accident earlier this morning. If you’re heading through Bloomington at this time, you’ve got at least a 15 minute commute from 77 at 494 to 66th Street. This just in: It looks like a family of wild pigs has attempted to cross the intersection of Penn and W. 76th. The papa pig was severely injured by a Mercury Sable heading east-bound, but I’m getting a report that he will be OK. However, the emergency vehicles on site have made this area pretty congested and it’s expected to remain that way for the next five to 10 minutes.
Host: While it started out rocky, it looks like she pulled it together, getting a few more highway names in there, an actual street, a time estimate, an accident and a suburb. She even worked in a situation with a pack of wild animals. This might be hard to beat! Now we go to Jonathan.
Jonathan: Hey, this is Jonathan at KDUM, the station that plays the most music you want to hear…well…during the day it plays music…right now is the morning show, so it’s mostly talk, some music you want to hear, and me, your traffic report guy. The go-to traffic report guy in the area. Mostly because I’m attractive, although I guess since this is radio you wouldn’t know that…but you can check out my MySpace page…
Host [in an aside to the audience]: Oh no, it sounds like Jonathan has a horrible case of mic fright and has completely forgotten what he’s here for. If he can’t pull it together soon, he’ll have blown his shot at this competition.
Jonathan: I mean…I have Facebook too. Don’t start thinking I’m a MySpace-only kind of guy — I love ’em both. And what’s not to love? One of them is a great place to browse for chicks and the other one lets me know which character from “Twilight” I most resemble. The hot one — just so you know. Whoa, I’m out of time. All the roads are CRAZY busy right now.
My other guess is a little simpler.
Interviewer: So how long have you lived in the area?
Lady Who Will Become a Traffic Reporter: About four years.
Interviewer: Do you have any experience in traffic reporting?
Lady: Well, no. But I have driven on most of the highways in the metro area, and I’ve been to quite a few of the suburbs.
Interviewer: Name some of the busy highways.
Lady: Do you want the directions they go and suburbs they pass through?
Interviewer: Nope, just names will do.
Lady: Um…494, 94, 694, 394, 62, 35, 35E, 35W, 100, 5….
Interviewer: Whoa! Overachiever. Well, you might be a little over-qualified for this position, but I think you’ll get along here.
And that’s it. I really think you just need to be able to come up with some kind of highway name, throw in a direction for the highway and you’re done.
Another thing that drives me nuts about traffic reporters is how often they fail to mention the road I’m on entirely. If there’s an accident on 494, they’ll tell me (about 15 minutes late, of course). But any other day, it seems like 494 just gets left out of the report. This highway is a super busy highway. There have been countless times I’ve listened to the report right before I’m about to get onto the highway — just in case they say there was a huge wreck or an entire section of the highway has disappeared. But I have to get onto the highway and find out for myself. This seems like it defeats the purpose. Is Highway 36 really that much more happening than 494? Come on!