Category Archives: commuting

Getting There is Half the – What??

Yesterday was a rude awakening, in more ways than one. First off, apparently everything that hasn’t been happening at the office decided to happen in full force Monday. My day off. So of course, the first thing I got to spend time doing yesterday (after I got the full rundown of Monday’s events) was to play catchup on all of the projects left for me while I was being Mom at home. Then – and only then – was I able to start on new work, like setting up the new assistant’s computer and training her on basic company software.

But of course, all of this couldn’t happen until I actually got to work, which – as it turns out – was yesterday’s adventure. And I’m still not quite sure why. See, the metro forecast called for rain – lots of rain – which, here in H-town means that every meteorologist in the entire area was salivating at the prospect of heavy flooding. It gave them a chance to create all of their worst-case-scenario graphs, charts and maps. Usually we all just laugh, roll our eyes and go on with our daily business.

Apparently yesterday was different. Apparently yesterday was the ONE day that all of us commuters decided to actually take the forecast seriously and embrace the doomsday flood prospects. Because from the first turn out of my suburban neighborhood, everyone was crawling along the roadways like ants through honey. You would have thought that fog limited visibility to five feet or less, or that the driving rain and feet of water on the roads brought traffic to a virtual standstill.

In reality, it was misting softly, no fog, an occasional small puddle and pretty dry roads. And given that I was headed into work an hour early because of a lunchtime appointment, I was relieved and ready to rock and roll on the road.

Not so much. My back way to the highway? The one that goes through a school zone? Since school started yesterday – along with the imagined rainstorms – that meant that, instead of 25 mph, apparently the speed limit was changed to 5-10. My normally ten minute jaunt to the interstate took 40 minutes. That’s right. 40. The zero is intentional.

And once on the highway? Crawling. A reported wreck on another highway further into town slowed things down even further, since the interstate has an exit ramp onto said highway. Stalled 18-wheeler in the center lane? Check. This one always baffles me. Honestly, can’t you tell when you’re having car trouble and at least move over? I do. But then I tend to be paranoid about weird shakes and noises in my car anyway.

One hour in, and guess what? That’s right – still not raining.

My normal bottleneck? The one that I always feel guilty about circumventing? Yep. Still the same. Actually that was the ONE part of the drive that went as usual. No faster, slower or stranger than usual.

An hour and a half after leaving my suburban home – and success! I managed to travel the 21 miles to the office. And I still wonder – what causes traffic like this? It’s not like the road was closed or impassable due to flooding/low visibility/rain, etc. I never understand.

The only things I can possibly think of are commuters’ dumbassery and poor road planning. Really. And the positive? I can honestly say that every day is a new adventure! Spontaneous! A bright surprise! The morning commute is never predictable! Yippee!!

Now if I could only get used to having my cheese moved daily…

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Filed under commuting, Houston, Traffic, Weather, working moms

Hypocritical

I’ve always been taught that you shouldn’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. Can’t remember any other cute little sayings my mom may have used over the years, but you get the idea. And I totally agree. That’s part of being an ethical, honest human being, right? Right. And if you make mistakes, the right thing to do is own it and fix it, right? Right.

I’m a hypocrite.

See, here’s the deal. We all have pet peeves. We do. Even if you don’t think you do – you do. That ONE thing that irritates you more than anything else and will take you to your last nerve if you let it? That’s a pet peeve. And one of my biggest pet peeves is cutters. You know them. Those people who see you heading to the checkout line and make a speedy beeline to get there before you. The ones who are more obvious and just shove in line at the movies. We’ve all seen them. Well, the ones who bug me the most are the drivers. The ones who drive past the ‘lane closed’ sign – the bright orange one – just like you do. But do they move over? No. They whiz on past, waiting until the absolute last inch of available lane and then force their way over in front of you. Do they realize that they are the traffic issue? That they’re the reason the rest of the roadway comes to a complete stop? Maybe. I’m sure some do. Anyhoo, I HATE it. True, strong, self-righteous hate.

I have to duck my head when I say this, but I’ve become one of them.

Not all of the time, mind you. Just sometimes. I used to be militant about following the letter of the law, common sense and unwritten driving courtesy. So much that I almost needed a sign for the top of the car screaming, ‘SEE??! I”M DOING THE RIGHT THING!!’

Not anymore. I’m ducking my head in shame here, but I’ve gotta be honest.

I cut in traffic.

Only in ONE location, during ONE part of my commute, and ONLY in the morning. See? Here I am trying to make it sound better – like I’m not a filthy hypocrite… But I am. I’ll explain… My morning commute averages about 45 minutes. Sometimes less, but sometimes a lot more – like up to an hour and 15 minutes. Seriously. But I’m a mom. I live in the ‘burbs. I can only leave so early – somehow I think the school would complain if I sent my kids to the bus stop an hour early. Or my neighbors would when the early-morning wrestling started down at the corner. So I’m limited on my start time.

Most of the drive is OK. I’m patient and try to be a good citizen, letting people in my lane, etc. But once I get to the bottleneck, all bets are off. There’s one spot on my route that comes to a complete stop. And there’s the dilemma. I could stay in my assigned lane, which is always much slower and longer due to poor planning down the road. I could. And I did for a long time – until I started being late to work. I hate being late. Also, this is a new job, so I’m still building trust, etc. I don’t want to get the ‘late’ label. No way.

So, I move over. Into the faster-moving, non-exit lane. And I creep up on the left, wait for my opportunity and some kindhearted soul who will let me over, and sweep into the correct lane. In front of all the law-abiding citizens who are silently waving their fists at me. But it saves me 10-15 minutes of drive time every day. And for this working mom, that’s a gold mine…

Like I said, this is probably trivial to most of you (or the five of you who read this), but I like to walk the talk. I try, anyway. So I had to be honest and get this off my chest.

Whew! What are your pet peeves??

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Filed under commuting, ethics, Pet peeves, suburbs, Traffic, working moms