Thursday, January 6, 2011


Usually, the drive from Alex's daycare back to Penny's school takes a smidge less than 20 minutes, depending on how I catch the traffic lights or if someone is driving extra-special slow on Rochambeau. This morning, the drive took nearly 35 minutes.

As I left the daycare, we passed the morning coal train, but I didn't get quite far enough ahead, because the railroad crossing arm was just dropping just as I approached it. So I did a U-turn in the middle of the road and went for the slightly longer route that has an overpass over the railroad tracks.

I caught every. Single. Traffic light.

But the train was still lumbering along as I got to the overpass, so despite the frustration of those lights, it still beat waiting on the train. (Those coal trains are both slow and long.)

I continued to catch every single possible traffic light, but when I got past the Wal-Mart and the Great Wolf Lodge, I could see Rochambeau was clear ahead of me. I settled in at 60 and smacked the cruise control.

As we came up on Airport Road -- nearly to the end -- there was a police car parked across the lane. This is a two-lane road, mind, so he was essentially blocking the whole lane. As I came closer, he waved for me to turn onto Airport.

I didn't want to turn onto Airport. But, apparently, I had no choice. I went down Airport long enough to turn around, then went back to Rochambeau and headed back up whence we had come so I could get on the interstate instead. Naturally, I got stuck for a while on Rochambeau behind a church van lumbering along at 40mph.

Once I'd made it to the interstate, I realized I probably should've just taken Airport and gone through the middle of town, but given my luck with traffic lights this morning, the interstate seemed the lesser evil. Anyway, if I'd done that, I wouldn't have seen the 3-vehicle pileup in front of the high school that was the reason they were blocking the road.

I continued to catch every. Single. Traffic light, but we made it to Penny's school with two whole minutes to spare before they rang the late bell, and I was only about ten or twelve minutes late to work (and I doubt anyone actually noticed).

It's weird, how much frustration a simple ten or fifteen minute delay can generate, isn't it? Maybe it's just me. I freely admit to being a little bit obsessive about my schedule and my time, the way other people can be obsessive about money or stuff. But I don't think I'm the only one. The term "road rage" wasn't coined just for me, after all. There's something weird that happens to our brains when we're driving -- like if we're not making the best possible time, we're losing the championship or something, even when it's utterly and ultimately unimportant. Why is that? Why does travel do that to us?

I don't have any answers. All I have are questions. Questions, and a body that's still keyed up from frustration-induced adrenaline, and a vague sense that I have to hurry, now, even though logically I know there's more than enough time to do what I need to do today.

People are weird.

1 comment:

Glossaria said...

I put forth that it's not *travel* that does that to us-- travel is fun. It's *destinations* that do it. Destinations and schedules. Driving to work or school has little to do with the journey, and much to do with getting where you need to be in a timely fashion. Schedules are evil.

(And yes, I tell myself these things regularly when I'm fuming behind a car doing 5 under the speed limit.)