Photo: Aaron Brown/Jalopnik
CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.  

Traffic is to driving as apple pie is to America. You can’t have one without the other. We’ve all had our fair share of bad jams, so now I’m asking you to relive your worst.

The story I’m about to tell you isn’t mine, it belongs to our dearly beloved Deputy Editor Michael Ballaban and it happened yesterday. I just got off the phone with him, he sounds exhausted and battle-worn. What follows has been reprinted in near-verbatim.

“This is a tale of hubris. A tale of man thinking he’s better than machine, which, as you know already, men are dumb,” he began.

“What happened was: We had just left the Waffle House in Toledo, Ohio. As anyone who has been to the Waffle House of Toledo, Ohio knows, it is truly a big tourist attraction, bigger than Disney. And we were on I-80, heading east, through northern Ohio, Lake Erie and northern Pennsylvania. We were making good time! Left at 8 a.m., hoping to be home for dinner. That would have been real nice.

“We were not relying on Google maps, we were relying on the car’s navigation system, which good car testers do. The GPS in the Lexus LS started to reroute us, it said ‘road closed.’ We looked around. There was no traffic on a Monday morning in rural Ohio, no signs that said the road was closed, everything looked fine. It was like a robot saying, ‘You need an umbrella, it’s about to be pouring rain in three seconds’ and it’s bright blue, cloudless sky.

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“You’re never going to believe that dumb robot. After all, it’s just a dumb robot.”

Photo: Mike Ballaban (Jalopnik)

“‘Damn,’ we said, ‘These stupid nav systems. Roads look fine. I’m not taking this weird-ass detour. Road isn’t closed.’

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“Approximately five minutes after that, we were making good time, speed limit is 70, so we’ve gone, like, five miles at least. We started to see a few more cars up ahead. And a few more cars. And a few more cars. And they were all completely fucking stopped. These were STOPPED. STOPPED.

“We were like what the hell?”

“[Jalopnik Social Media Editor] Aaron Brown checked Waze, and his Waze chat was blowing up. Turned out, three tractor trailers were involved in a crash, one of them jackknifed. Later on, we saw it, the cargo was missing completely. The other one looked like it had been torn open with a can-opener. We hoped no one was hurt, but we were literally stuck dead in traffic. Everyone got out of their cars, people were riding around on scooters.

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“We were stuck a grand total of two and a half hours. Aaron Brown even had enough time to interview a triple-trailer truck driver. The entire highway was closed to traffic, but other side was wide and clear. I finally got home at 12:30 a.m.”

Thus concludes Ballaban’s tale. There’s nothing worse than making good time and happily anticipating making it back ahead of schedule, only to have that hope dashed on the jagged rocks of a traffic jam.

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Now it’s your turn. What was the worst traffic jam you’ve ever been stuck in?