A perfect phrase for traffic
January 4, 2009 10:12 AM   Subscribe

When you're going against traffic, is that bad? Of course not, even though it sounds bad. And if you're going with traffic -- that's bad, even though it sounds good. Confusion is built in. Here's the QX: Years ago I heard a perfect phrase for this. Something like "If we leave at three, traffic's our friend." Maybe that was it. But has anybody ever heard something along these lines. Thx!
posted by Brzht to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Something as basic as "If we leave at three, we'll beat the traffic." ?
posted by Science! at 10:23 AM on January 4, 2009

Response by poster: No, it wasn't about leaving ahead of traffic. You could say this at the height of rush hour -- "We'll be OK because we're going against traffic." But that's confusing, and he said something else that summed it up perfectly.
posted by Brzht at 10:31 AM on January 4, 2009

I doubt this is what you're looking for, but in the context of work, I've heard it called a "reverse commute."
posted by naju at 10:35 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

This might be one of those "drive on the parkway and park on the driveway" situations. I don't think I've ever heard another phrase for this (and, as an editorial comment, I don't know that I've ever seen any confusion at the use of "going against traffic"). I guess you could say something like "we'll have the road to ourselves"? Or you could have fun by embellishing the language a bit.
posted by socratic at 10:44 AM on January 4, 2009

"When you're going against traffic, is that bad? Of course not"

The word "traffic" does not mean only motorised road vehicles in situations where each direction has a separate lane. Even if that's the context in which you personally normally use it, most of the times that I hear "going against traffic", it really is a bad thing.

(So much so that even if the context was motorised road traffic, I would assume the person meant they turned the wrong way into a one-way street).

As to your question, the phrase I normally hear is some variant on "the bulk of the traffic will be heading the other way", which is pretty similar, but rules out the wrong-way-in-one-way-traffic meaning.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:54 AM on January 4, 2009

From your description, it sounds like you want the phrase to express that traffic is heavy only in the opposite direction. However, the phrase "traffic's our friend" doesn't say anything about traffic coming the other way either. So if that isn't really a requirement, then I would say, "traffic will be light in our direction (even though it's rush hour)."
posted by kosmonaut at 10:55 AM on January 4, 2009

Having had a reverse commute, and my wife now having a reverse commute, I've referred to it as going "opposite traffic." Since all the traffic is going in the opposite direction.
posted by borkencode at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2009

I've also always called it going opposite traffic. It just makes the most sense -- most of the traffic is going the opposite way.
posted by kate blank at 11:49 AM on January 4, 2009

The heavy traffic will be on the other side of the roadway, going the opposite direction.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:30 PM on January 4, 2009

"It's a two way street"
posted by poppo at 12:35 PM on January 4, 2009

My work colleagues say, "I'm driving with the traffic" when they mean they have an easy ride because they have a reverse commute.

Those who *really* commute with the traffic (i.e., who have a hard ride) say they are "driving against" or "fighting" the traffic.

However, they always seem to have to elaborate on the phrase.

There seems to be a similar problem with directions in this part of the world: a doctor's receptionist will say, "If you're coming on North I95, then take exit such and such, ..." and it's random whether they mean coming south to the office from the north, or traveling north.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2009

Wrong. "I'm driving with the traffic" means they have a difficult commute.

"Against the traffic" means you have speedy non-stop commute while the cars going the opposite way are stuck in heavy traffic.
posted by Zambrano at 2:50 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've never heard anyone say "I'm driving with traffic", and "reverse commute" to me means that you're commuting from the city to the burbs which would correlate with traffic, but not necessarily. I don't think you'll come to consensus on this. It's one of those ambiguous phrases like "this friday" vs. "next friday" that a lot of people don't agree on.
posted by electroboy at 4:15 PM on January 4, 2009

I've always heard it said, "I'm driving against the traffic," meaning, they're having a hard time getting anywhere. I think it's a locality thing, like "soda" versus "pop" or "coke."
posted by Kimothy at 5:08 PM on January 4, 2009

I'd say something like "If we leave at three, we won't have to fight the traffic."
posted by decathecting at 6:44 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

All the traffic will be on the other side of the road.
posted by ook at 10:26 PM on January 4, 2009

I think I'd say "We'll be driving opposite the traffic"
posted by Acacia at 1:31 AM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: Well, a great response. But no one quite hit it.

I'd say the confusion inherent in "going against traffic" or "going with traffic" is self-evident. Sure, I can say I'm going against traffic, and anyone who stops a moment to analyze realizes that I have an easy drive.

But a moment is a long time, and analysis is hard work. On the surface, "going against" something sounds difficult.

"Opposite the traffic" is certainly better.

But the phrase I want can be used in either circumstance (against or with traffic). When I say "Traffic's our friend," you don't need to know what city we're in, or what time it is, or what route we're taking, or even if we're going against or with.

The phrase tells you that our journey has the optimal relationship to the traffic, whether it be inbound or outbound.

And yet -- I don't think that was the phrase.

Thanks to all for the contributions!
posted by Brzht at 5:33 AM on January 5, 2009

Just FYI, if you said "traffic's our friend," I'd have no idea what you were talking about. It's not that I wouldn't know which direction you were headed vis a vis the heavy traffic; it's that it would never occur to me that you were talking about the level of traffic congestion in the first place. I'd be completely baffled by that phrase in normal conversation.
posted by decathecting at 7:28 AM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah. That's why I don't think it was the phrase.

Traffic's on our side? (Easily misinterpreted -- if it's on our side of the median, we're in a bad spot)

The traffic helps us? (Except it doesn't)

Traffic fights alongside us . . . oh, never mind.

It was a nice phrase, whatever it was. I think you'd have understood what he meant.
posted by Brzht at 8:18 AM on January 6, 2009

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