Sandra Benedetto: Prayer to the Chicago Expressway Gods

Dear Gods,

Thank you for my vehicle and for my limbs that operate it. Thank you for the fact that I haven’t been killed by failing highway infrastructure yet. Thank you for NPR, which keeps me mostly awake and rage-free. But Gods, my daily commute is not all smooth sailing. If life is a highway, my life is a slowly building heart attack. As a motorist who is at your mercies for no fewer than 90 minutes per day, I humbly ask that you hear my pleas.

Can you please stop making traffic jams for no reason? If I’m not moving and the sign says it’s an hour and 5 minutes to O’Hare, I need an explanation. Construction, Joe Biden motorcade, duck crossing, War of the Worlds exodus, something. Just send me a sign. Otherwise, it just makes you look capricious and malevolent. No offense.

Can you please mix up the hot spots once in awhile? Why must it always be the Stevenson with the jackknifed semi, the Kennedy with the stalled car, the Eisenhower with the police chase, and the Dan Ryan with the car fire? Can Lake Shore Drive take some of the heat now and then? I know, I know — drivers had to abandon their cars during the Snowpocalypse; but nearly every day the report for LSD is maddeningly “clear in both directions.” I’m surprised there aren’t more traffic incidents given the shimmery distractions of the lake on one side and high-rises on the other. I’m sure you know what you’re doing, just saying.

Can you please place a curse on all of the people that bypass standstill traffic in a non-lane and cut in at the last second? Specifically the guy from earlier today who not only did not give a courtesy wave but somehow managed to smirk at me while shoveling McDonald’s fries in his face? I hope that you turn the blood in his veins into gasoline so he is that much more flammable in the hellfires of damnation. I would appreciate it.

Conversely, can you please lift the curse that you’ve placed on the heads of drivers from that state which shall remain nameless? While I enjoy being right whenever I get close enough to the dangerously terrible driver to verify that they have Indiana plates (oops), my smugness is tempered by the worry that they will cause my death. There is no need for them to tail me as if it’s 2006 and they’ve just spotted Dave Chappelle riding shotgun in my car. There is no need for them to abruptly slow down after cutting me off as if they are in Speed 3: Brakedown.

Can you please tell someone to take down the billboard that keeps a running total of all of the motor vehicle deaths so far this year? For those of us that already have a healthy fear of heavy metal machines operated by anyone over the age of 16 with a pulse, it only sends us into a distracting reverie about what it would feel like to be thrown through the windshield. For others (not me, of course), this awful digital tally taps into an innate desire to accumulate points. I’m pretty sure the desired response is not, “Oooh, do you think we’ll get to 1,000 before the New Year?” Please spare us this emotional disorientation and let us get back to our texting.

Lastly, can you PLEASE not let anyone else find out about the sneak route that I discovered? I believe that you meant for me to find it because you know I’ve really been trying to be a decent person lately, and if it continues to shave 10 minutes off my commute I promise I’ll never doubt your existence ever again.



  1. This is hilarious! I can relate in so many ways.
    This part was my favourite: “I hope that you turn the blood in his veins into gasoline so he is that much more flammable in the hellfires of damnation. I would appreciate it.” HAHA!
    Great piece, Sandra! Thanks for sharing…and I hope no one discovers your secret route 😉

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