Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Evil Morning Commute

Did you ever see the movie, “Office Space” with Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston and Gary Cole? The film opens with the main character, Peter Gibbons, stuck in a traffic jam on his morning commute to the office. He’s drumming his fingers on the steering wheel in frustration as he sits in a non-moving lane while the cars in the lane next to him are moving right along. Finally, he’s able to ease out of his lane and merge into the moving lane. Which promptly slows to a stop. And then, of course, the lane he has just left starts moving.

Yeah, well, that’s how my morning commute has been going lately. And it is. Driving. Me. Nuts.

Haha, aren’t you funny. Okay, so sure, I was already a little nuts – but, you have no idea. This commuting thing is putting me right over the top in the nuts department.

One morning last week I gulped down my coffee a little faster so I could leave home a few minutes earlier. I tried a different route, thinking that I’d have enough extra time built in for slow-moving traffic due to the approximately ten sprinkles of rain we were experiencing. Well, not only did I not make it to work on time, I was about 15 minutes late. Why? Because those ten raindrops were apparently enough to cause a five-car accident. So much for thinking, eh?

Oh well. At least I wasn’t one of the five drivers with smooshed fenders.

Another morning, I noted that it was a good commuting day. There was no rain, no snow and just a little bit of sunshine with enough cloud cover so that drivers wouldn’t be blinded by the sun, which evidently causes many drivers to bash into the car in front of them for no good reason other than to cause me to be late for work.

But despite the near-perfect atmospheric conditions, Columbus drivers were uncooperative and I was doing the finger drumming on the steering wheel thing. There was another multiple car accident close to downtown. Big surprise. It made the phrase, "stop-and-go traffic" a complete misnomer as there was very little “go” in the traffic that morning. What’s worse is I never heard about the accident from the traffic reports on the radio. And given that the tow truck was already there (blocking traffic, of course), I knew the accident had not just occurred.

Traffic reports are – in my humble opinion – pretty worthless. Yet I still listen to them carefully and choose a route before leaving home. Inevitably, I choose the wrong route. I find out about some new tie-up about a second after I’ve passed the point of no return. Either that – or the traffic reporter never even mentions a problem on the route I’ve chosen, yet traffic is still backed up.

Yesterday was the first day of school for the multitudes of Ohio State students and, as I feared, traffic was at a near-standstill. At least until I finally passed the campus exit. Since I didn’t own a vehicle and lived on campus all four years back in the dark ages when I was an OSU student, I had no idea what was happening on the freeways around Columbus. Now, however, I am painfully aware. Clearly, there are a lot of students who commute.

Not only that, but the fall quarter is the worst time for campus traffic as students start out all shiny and diligent and take early morning classes. By the time spring rolls around, I sail right along past campus since the student commuters have smartened up and don’t start class until a more appropriate hour, like, say, noon.

It's a win-win situation for both the students and me at this point. But, sadly, I’m among those commuters who pay for their learning curve at the beginning.

I suppose I should look at the bright side of this whole thing and be grateful that I have (thus far) avoided being one of the poor souls standing next to their crunched cars frantically dialing their insurance agents.

Saying this, of course, makes me knock on wood. Every time. Even writing it makes me knock on the desk. I really don’t want to talk to my insurance agent and I will be most happy if we never meet in person. Ever.

I seriously hate the word “deductible.”

So, until I become either independently wealthy or my boss tells me I can work from home in my PJs, I guess I’ll have to grin and bear it and keep on truckin'. (Ha. Like the truck driving profession is one I would ever attempt - for more reasons than mere traffic snarl-ups!)

Nevertheless, I can’t promise that I won’t be the commuter grinding her teeth and drumming her fingers on the steering wheel in utter frustration.

Yeah, upon further contemplation, which took approximately 3.2 seconds, you should probably count on that.

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