One of the best things about being retired is I no longer have to commute to work everyday of my life. I did it for a long time. Sometimes when I think back about it, I remember it as if it is happening today, instead of in the past. This is what it was like:
I’m spending too much time commuting to work. One day I looked out the back door and began to wonder how my driveway could suddenly become 20 miles long and six lanes wide. Actually, I don’t spend too much time at home, because with traffic what it is, by the time I get home, it’s time to turn around and start back to the office.
I know more about what happens on the Interstate than the local traffic copter. I am beginning to like the smell of exhaust fumes, and that really worries me. The other commuters are my only friends. I am starting to recognize them on the Interstate and memorize their license plates.
I have personally paid enough gasoline tax to resurface the entire Interstate between my home and office. In view of this, I do not understand the highway department’s negative attitude about giving me a designated driving lane of my own. The gasoline station down at the corner holds a second mortgage on my home, and I think the truck drivers are beginning to know me too as they always wave when I drive by.
I have an assortment of coffee car mugs for all occasions. Who needs a radar detector? I know all the Smokey’s hiding places. There are only so many billboards and bushes they can hide behind. I know all the exits and how much distance between each one in miles and metrics. I change lanes before I even see the road sign. If it rains, I know where every puddle in the road will be. I think I may be developing a racing strip down my back from spending so much time on wheels.
NASCAR driving would be a piece of cake after fighting the traffic on the Interstate every morning. Actually, I can’t imagine anyone getting a speeding ticket because the traffic creeps along at 30 miles per hour. I have driven through snow, rain, hail, and wind and still managed to make it to work five minutes before the boss. My recurring nightmare is not being able to get into the right hand exit lane and having to circle the city for days on the inner loop. I carry a road map just in case I’m forced off at the 440 bypass and end up in Memphis. I could show up at work five years late one morning mumbling, “The commute was really hell today!
I keep snacks in the car for traffic jams, and I know all the DJ’s on the radio and their call letters. I keep my driver’s license close to my heart, and a picture of my family on the dashboard so I don’t forget what they look like. I probably should have my vehicle registration matted and framed. My car is actually my next of kin. It has a name and my honey accuses me of loving it more than him. I should probably mention it in my will, perhaps leave it a set of jumper cables or an oil change or two for loyal service.
I don’t have to check the gas gauge as I know how many trips I can make before I have to fill up again. If cars had automatic pilot, it could drive itself. Like a faithful horse, I’m sure it knows the way. I don’t measure distance in miles, I measure it in commute time. I am a daily witness to road rage, accidents, breakdowns, and stupidity. I see women putting on their makeup and men shaving at 70 mph. There are more single driver cars using the HOV lanes for passing than carpoolers using it for commuting. I have learned to cope with traffic frustration because there is no place to get off the road and have a nervous breakdown. If I did, I’d never be able to get back on.
Well, I better leave and start driving. If you need me just call me on my cell phone. I gotta turn on the radio and get the traffic report. Wave if you see me on I-24. My car is the one with the vanity license plate “COMMUTER.”