Living: Trapped Behind The Wheel

Clever commuters learn to live in the slow lane

There are trends, all too easily discernible, in dinner conversations. The saga of domestic help is a persistent one -- pretty worked over by now. Real estate is an ongoing turnoff, but the new buzz is even more boring and more inescapable. It is traffic.

In a scene replayed thousands of times each evening in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and burgeoning suburbs nationwide, the last guests for a 7:30 dinner straggle in 40 minutes late, muttering their astonishment -- but not, significantly, their apologies -- that it took them 90 minutes to drive ten miles. Their woes inevitably inspire the...