Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Driving in the Slow Lane - A Story of Commute Anger

Until recently it had been 5 years since I commuted by car. But due to my new work situation I make the trek from West Seattle to Bellevue, across the West Seattle Bridge and over 1-90, most weekdays. Great thing to start just when gas prices went over $4 a gallon.

At first I was doing ok. I enjoyed listening to NPR, I figured out the best route, and Chris agreed I should take the GTI most of the time rather than the Subaru. But then it started.

I began to notice all of the idiots on the road. How they drove too fast. Didn't use blinkers. Followed too close. Threw things out their windows. I slowly grew angry. Mad, upset and angry.

The mornings weren't so bad, but boy, once 5 o'clock hit and people headed home the crazies came out of the woodwork. By the time I'd arrive home I'd be in a complete tizzy. And who did I have to take it out on but the kitties and Chris. I was getting close to the tipping point and I needed to make a change.

Chris sat me down and made a few suggestions. Most of which were valid, but not useful.
  • Go back to taking the bus - too bad I waste an extra 2 hours a day doing that. I can't read on the bus, I get carsick, so I mostly just sit there.
  • Take the water-taxi to downtown and take the bus - see above.
  • Work from home full-time - concept is good, but it really gets lonely. And there is something about co-worker camaraderie that is key. I try to work from home 1 to 2 days a week, but that doesn't solve the anger.

It was his last idea that got me thinking.
  • Drive in the slow lane and forget about the traffic.

He was on to something. I was always trying to compete with everyone on the road. If they tailgated me I had to tap my breaks, if they tried to zoom around me I felt like I had to block them, if they forgot to signal or cut me off I felt like it was my duty to give them honkers!

Was it as easy as that?

Well, two weeks later I think it is starting to work. I have begun to try and not care. I drive in the slow lane, flowing lazily with the traffic. I listen to soothing music, or tune out the world with the stories on NPR. If someone tailgates me, I move over. If someone cuts me off, I slow down to make room for them. If someone is all zoomy in the fast lane, I just ignore them and mosey along in the slow lane.

I still think they are idiots, mind you, but my anger is much better.

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