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Finally, at clearly marked or somehow mutually agreed upon places, everybody starts conducting beautiful “zipper merges.” That’s the technical term — one-two, one-two or one-two-three, one-two-three — as indicated by the roadway configuration. The process has now worked at its ideal efficiency/equitability ratio: if all have behaved correctly, the tunnel passage has been both benign and, relatively speaking, quick. Personal sacrifice has been called for, to be sure. The former sidezoomers have sacrificed the pleasure of high-speed bypass, also known as I Beat Out the Stupid Sheep Just Now, Ha Ha (less truculent rendition: I Want to Get Home More Than I Care About Strangers Whose Faces I Can’t Even See). The former lineuppers have sacrificed the pleasure of self-congratulatory umbrage, also known as Hmph, Good Thing Society Has People Like Me. Together we have all ascended to the traffic decorum of the army ants, who as Vanderbilt observes are among the earth’s most accomplished commuters, managing to get from one place to another in large groups without cutting each other off, deciding their time is more valuable than everybody else’s, or — apparently this is the fast-lane domination method for certain traveling land crickets — eating anybody who gets in the way.

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