RN: So glad you picked up the phone. Pardon my primal scream.

CP: No worries. I did think you were Yoko Ono for a minute. Why so upset?

RN: It's because I've spent the past 20 minutes inching, oh, three blocks, along I-94. Fun.

CP: Here's what you do. Exit at Cretin-Vandalia, find a leafy side street and take a two-hour nap. Certainly by then things will have quieted down. So what if you miss a doctor's appointment and a spin class? Life goes on.

RN: Fine. I'll place myself in a mental savasana pose. Anyway, what is it with the road construction? You can't swing a flat tire in this town without hitting an orange traffic cone.

CP: I think it's because they have to cram 12 months' worth of repaving and lightbulb-replacing into our five months of survivable weather.

RN: More like five weeks. This is nothing compared with yesterday's mini-meltdown, when every street I was on in downtown Minneapolis was a wreck. It was as if Mayor Rybak had personally targeted my car for punishment. I ended up depressurizing at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, calming myself with French post-Impressionists.

CP: I love that you took your road rage directly to Edouard Vuillard. He can help, but so few think to ask him. The thing that gets me is how, when you finally make it to the actual construction zone, the workers always seem to have been sucked heavenward in a Rapture-like event.

RN: See, whenever my Ion creeps past, there's usually a hive of worker bees. I try to remember that Constructiongeddon 2011 is not their fault. They're just doing their hot, dirty and exhausting jobs. Of course, bad Minnesota drivers only make the situation worse. I'm beginning to wonder if our driving-school curriculums emphasize poor merging skills.

CP: Because I bike a lot in the summer, I have fewer complaints than Mr. Ima Kvetcher. Gotta say that when I pedal over the I-94 bridge at rush hour, I love being above the jam, not in it.

RN: Here's a box of Morton's Kosher Salt. Let me find an open wound, so that you can commence rubbing it in.

CP: I hate to be all doomy-gloomy, but the fact is that the end of road work signals the flying of the snowflakes. What would you rather -- the bad or the worse?

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com • Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib