Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three minutes to the Edens

I was explaining my week's challenge to my boss a little bit ago, and I think we're in agreement that Foster Avenue ought to be exempted from my challenge. I drive the mile-or-so long stretch from Foster and Cicero to Foster and Bernard in the mornings, and the reverse in the evenings. This is a long straightaway that has a technical speed limit of 30, but normally I'm hitting 40 on the emptier stretches as well as whipping around turning cars with probably the briefest of turn-signaling. Going 30 this morning on Foster felt painfully slow. Going 30 tonight will probably feel worse, since all I want to do, along with everyone else, is get the hell home. I won't exempt it, of course, but I wanna. What I found particularly interesting is that my boss does the same thing I do -- times segments of his drive home. Like, my trip from St. Louis to Cicero should take four minutes; Foster to Pensacola should take eight; and it usually takes two minutes to make a left turn from Pensacola onto Milwaukee. And if I'm being honest, should the whole trip take more than fifteen minutes -- literally, if it takes sixteen minutes -- I'm a mite annoyed. Not, like, ruin-my-evening-annoyed or shooting-spree-annoyed, but just sort of piqued. I feel robbed of my time.

Really, that might be the root of the problem for both Peter and me with respect to driving habits (particularly using the phone.) I resent the time I have to spend in the car with relatively little control over how long it takes to get from place to place. I'd rather be at home, you know? I don't think I'm some sort of maniac driver, or even a particularly aggressive one, but I do get impatient with drivers pretty quickly because I feel like I'm always in a hurry, even when I'm just heading home with no particular need to get there at 5:30. I have to remind myself that flooring it to get through a yellow light is not going to buy me all that much time -- not even at the heinous Milwaukee-Cicero-Irving Park six corners, where if I miss the green I have to wait through TWO lights for it to come back to me. TWO LIGHTS PEOPLE. I get so excited when I hit all green lights on the way to Hannah's because I can make the trip in four minutes, but even when I hit all reds, like this morning, it takes only six minutes. I'm freaking out for two minutes' time, which feels like an eternity in the morning, but jeez, I'm running late every goddamned day. Taking two extra minutes isn't going to sink my productivity for the day, but when I'm in the car it feels like forever.

But, it was kind of worth it today because through my goody-two-shoes rule-following I did experience the brief thrill of thwarting an asshole driver today on the way to the gym. This toolbag in a white SUV was tailgating me for a couple of blocks (and while I was doing only the speed limit of 20, it was in a school zone, so I felt mighty justified about being poky.) He tried doing the pull to the right at a stoplight, then speed in front manuever, but wound up getting cockblocked by a slow group of pedestrians, so he sped right up to kiss my bumper again at the next block, where there is a stop sign. I duly performed the full three-second stop. I may have stretched it to four, actually, because a nanosecond after I came to a stop he was laying on his horn. I've never rolled so slowly out of an intersection in my life. I could see the guy in my rearview getting red-faced and apopleptic with veiny, murderous rage. It was delightful. This is probably the opposite the spirit of this challenge, but it sort of made my afternoon.


  1. Oh god, I LOVE doing this. Actually I saw an awesome bumper sticker recently that said something along the lines of, "The closer you are, the slower I go." and that fits me to a T. It's funny, I started working on my road rage a couple years ago. NPR helps. Now I generally don't want to get out of the car when I get to work because I'm listening to Morning Edition or something like that. I just leave a bit earlier (which is aided by my resolution to eat breakfast) and take my time on my (gasp) three mile commute.

  2. My commute's only like 3 and a half miles, and really, leaving five minutes earlier would go a long way to alleviating any worries about lateness. But...but...I shouldn't HAVE to!

  3. When all is right in the world, it should take me *exactly* 16 minutes to get from my house to Old Orchard mall on the way to work. I get cranky when it goes later than that.

    Of course, after that I still have a full 40 - 60 minutes left to drive, but whatever.