Bleak places

This list is prompted by a long road trip I recently took. While driving I endured several of the places listed below. These are the most dehumanizing, soul-crushing, depressing or bleak places that I believe we’ve created for ourselves in the modern world. Enjoy!

  • Traffic jams – sometimes far removed from recognizable human habitats, highways can be a trap in which you have little chance to avoid the traffic jam. Then it’s just sit and wait with everyone else who’s packaged conveniently in their own metal box.
  • Highway rest stops – Once you can get off the highway, these cardboard-cutout locations are designed to get you back on the road fast (for the next traffic jam). The less time spent in the food court setting, or waste-filled washrooms the better.
  • Food courts – Worse than individual fast-food feeding pens, these places have all the crappy eateries you could want in one place. Featuring the charm of mass produced “food”, and sullen teen staff, here is where the joy of eating goes to die. 
  • Medical or government waiting rooms – Designed specifically to suck the life from you. If you doubt me, look at any of the other rotting corpses around you. Their dead eyes are mirrors of yours. These rooms are like prisons without bars, but frequently torture you with ancient periodicals, soft music or local radio banalities.
  • Any sort of queue – Populated, by surly, impatient people and seething with frustration, queues are even better if you get to queue in some sort of waiting area, like a government office. 
  • Airports, train station and bus station waiting areas – Nothing starts or ends a trip with more joy than spending time in an public transit hub (after you spent time waiting in line for security) with people who might smell (as much as you do), and with kids who aren’t yours, before being packed into your public transit mode of choice. Welcome to steerage.
  • Cubicles – the factory line of the information economy, these have all the charm of veal fattening pens, as Scott Adams once said.

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