Here’s what I’ve learned about commuting. It sucks. I ask you, how do people do this every day?
Lately I’ve been commuting into San Francisco once a week, which normally takes around 45 minutes. But not when it’s 7:30 a.m. Then it takes 90 minutes. Yes, you read that right. I can jog faster than we often crawl along the freeway (and I only jog 10 minute miles). Commuting makes me want to drive off the nearest cliff. But I won’t because that means sitting in more traffic to get there.
I’ve joined the poor saps who commute into the city because the SPCA offered to sterilize 5 feral cats for us each visit for free. Let me repeat that awesome sentence in case you’re questioning whether you need glasses. THEY ARE DONG IT FOR FREE. That means each time I endure the excruciatingly tedious drive, I remind myself it’s worth my nonprofit saving $300.
Or is it? Each time I hit the road I think: is it REALLY worth it? What will we do with that $300 savings? Treat a cat’s neck abscess? How painful can an abscess be anyway? Besides, it will probably heal on its own in a couple months. Maybe three. Four tops.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’d never ignore feline ailments just to save some bucks. But it’s sure tempting when I figure it’s 90 minutes into the city, 45 minutes back, another 45 minutes to go collect the cats and 90 more minutes coming home in peek 5:00 p.m. traffic. Math isn’t my strong suit but I believe that’s 4 1/2 hours on the road.
So here’s 7 things I’ve learned about the art of commuting:
1) Resist the temptation to take notes for your blog while in heavy traffic on Lombard Street. The potential for near catastrophe increases exponentially.
2) There’s a skill to knowing when and where to switch lanes in order to shave a precious 5 minutes off your commute. Study the patterns then implement your tactical maneuvers.
3) Be brave once you finally reach the city. This no place for sissies or those without a precise plan. No pussyfooting around or you’ll find yourself behind that lady in the Cadillac driving 15 in a 25 mph zone, being passed by everyone else going 40.
4) Never drive behind someone with a bruised back bumper. Pass this person as quickly as humanly possible. Those dents are there for a reason — most likely the result of being rammed for going 15 in a 25 mph zone while everyone else was going 40.
5) Don’t listen to Stella, your GPS, when she tries to take you on a supposed quicker route but you end up driving down pretty much every street south of Market, spewing words you’ve never uttered out loud. Had you ignored her, followed your instincts and stayed on Van Ness Avenue, you wouldn’t have been late. I’m just sayin’.
6) Don’t be shocked by how many commuters you’ll see eating breakfast behind the wheel while gabbing on their phones. These are true multitaskers. Also, beware of pedestrians who trust a green light at an intersection and naively cross without first looking, just as a breakfast-eating, phone-talking commuter (now checking for nose hairs in the rear view mirror) approaches said intersection.
7) For city drivers, traffic lights are no more than suggestions.
Remember, I’m only commuting one day a week. If it were more, I’d definitely need to program that cliff into my GPS. But with Stella, I figure I only have a 50% chance of her getting me there for a reenactment of Thelma and Louise, thereby putting me out of commuter misery.
Otherwise, you’ll probably find me somewhere south of Market.