Columnist

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Things are returning to normal. Normal-ish. Recently, I started seeing signs that we are nearing the end of our quarantine. It began a few weeks ago, I started running into friends and acquaintances on the street. Granted, I only saw half of their faces, but they were out in public again, milling about downtown. Shops and restaurants had people in them again.

True story: Six months ago, I was the only customer in the Starbucks downtown. Yes, they screwed up by giving me an iced coffee instead of the iced tea, and writing “Mickel” on the side of that very same venti, but there was no line!

It’s been a long road, but I’m seeing the light at the end of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. With the return of the people, came their vehicles. Cars. Lots and lots of cars.

Traffic has returned.

Tuesday after Memorial Day Weekend, I was trapped in a traffic jam. My first one in a year-and-a-half! I would like to tell you that I remained calm, cool and collected. I did not. I was nervous, sweaty and discombobulated.

Since February of last year, I was only driving into Pittsburgh intermittently, working from home most days. Occasionally, I would have to come into the city. I would breeze into town in less time than it would take for a pizza to arrive at my door. A quick commute was one of the few perks of the pandemic. Sure, I couldn’t see my friends and family for months, and I was consumed with the constant fear of dying, but I could get to work in a jiffy.

Now, I was stuck. Trapped in an endless sea of motorized metal monstrosities.

I sat behind a car with a license plate frame that touted that the vehicle came from Used Car World. “What a waste of a planet,” I thought as my mind wandered (my mind was the only thing that was moving). I pictured aliens in loud, checkered blazers announcing that their prices were INSANE! They had long limbs and torsos that blew around in the wind. While sitting in the dense line of vehicles on the Parkway West, I practically wrote the script for “The Invasion of the Wacky Inflatable Tube Men from Used Car World” in my head.

But I digress, like I do.

The returning traffic brought it’s best buddy – road rage. The people are back – literally and figuratively – with a vengeance. Drivers are acting stupid again. Granted, they probably never stopped acting stupid, but they were doing it from the safety of their homes.

The angry drivers, the speedsters, and the rebels returned.

I know that normal life is resuming because someone honked their horn at me while I let pedestrians cross the street. I should have mowed those people down so the Ford Explorer behind me could get home in time to watch a celebrity guest host “Jeopardy.”

We’re getting back on track, but that track is cranky and crowded.

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