That’s right! My impromptu adventures led a new drive time mantra right to my brain. Like lightning…just struck my head.
So…I had this wild idea yesterday.
“I’ll just run down to In-And-Out and have lunch with a friend!”
Doesn’t seem that wild, right? But there are extenuating circumstances. The first of which is that there isn’t such a burger joint in my town. The second being that my friend lives in the next county.
Yeah, those are my kind of people! People that text, “What are you doing?” and when I answer, “Nothing really.”
“Want to go to lunch and visit?”
I found a place roughly halfway between us and hit the road only to be stopped dead in my tracks when I reached the freeway, thirty minutes into my one-hour drive.
Now, I knew it was President’s Day and that the great return migration of desert campers and off-roaders to Los Angeles and Orange County would be shifted from Sunday to Monday, and I believed I had taken that into account when I checked the map and drive time. But someone miles away had to mess it up and have a bit of an accident after I started my drive and the traffic backed up considerably behind them.
Technology to the rescue!
Every time someone complains about technology, especially smart phones, ruining society, I want to smack them upside the head.
My map app alerted me to the delay. I do wish it would say WHICH lane was closed, but it was better than nothing. I also could see from the screen where the traffic let up. I knew it wouldn’t last forever. With a press of a button, I was able to call and let my friend know approximately how late I was going to be. Stress, relieved.
But there I sat, solidly, waiting for the third cycle of the traffic signal before I could start inching my way onto the freeway. The wind blowing through the pass rocked my car so hard, I was slightly concerned that I might end up a red metal and plastic tumbleweed. I said a quick prayer to the travel gods for the VW bus I passed a few minutes earlier. I have driven this road in the wind in my own VW bus. It was not pleasant.
I’m at the front of the intersection when the light turns green, but there is nowhere for me to go. There are still cars backed up in their own attempt to merge. I wait for a moment to be sure I won’t block the intersection when I hear honking from behind me.
Ok…now I could understand this behavior if I were in a big truck and the car behind me couldn’t see over or around me. Maybe they think I fell asleep or that I was busy on my phone. This time, no. I’m in my mother-in-law’s car, low to the ground and the truck behind me has a clear view of the situation in front of us.
I ignore him and wait another moment. When the traffic ahead moves, I move with it. The angry man behind me, whips around me into the right lane, passes me and promptly stops in that lane two cars ahead. I smile. “Surprise!”
A few minutes later, he and several other people are trying to merge back into the left lane with us, the lane that goes west, the direction all these other poor people are trying to go in. I let a car in ahead of me and keep inching along.
The scene in front of me is familiar. I drive this stretch often. The wind turbines, San Jacinto Mountains, the sand blowing in the high winds of the winter storm that is coming east are all so beautiful. Because I’m stopped here, slowing making my way onto the freeway instead of gaining speed and merging through the slower trucks heading uphill and into the wind like I usually am, I can take a breath and really look at it all.
That’s when I noticed the clouds spilling over the mountain top and gasp. Holy…wow…
I see this happen often. Those mountains are so tall that they block storms coming off the ocean most of the year. That’s part of why our side is a desert. But it’s not every day I can just sit and watch it happen. The clouds tumbled and spilled over the crest and dissipated in the high winds whipping through the rocky passes.
I grabbed my camera and took a picture. Thanks again, technology!
The rest of the drive was typical. People not letting cars merge in, people not understanding that they had to merge, drivers honking at each other. You can feel the tension. One RV pulling a trailer of quads and dirt bikes wouldn’t let me on to the freeway. I shook my head a smiled.
“Man…that’s some bad karma you’re putting out there, dude.”
I waited till he inched past and the got behind him, in front of a nice trucker that probably understands that you let people in so that you get let in. It’s the way of the road. Don’t be a dick.
That’s when my new mantra dawned on me.
I want it on a bumper sticker or stenciled across the back of my truck.
It’s not only a great slogan for California traffic and long vacation drives. It works for life in general. Guess where we’re all going? Death. We’ll get there, each and every one of us, in our own time. Traffic might slow us down. There may be accidents, gas stations, and roadside attractions, but we’ll ALL get there.
Why should we make the getting there suck with impatience, anger, and greed? Why not sit back, look around, and take it all in?
That’s exactly what I did yesterday. I was frustrated that my one-hour drive would now take two. Other driver’s impatience bugged me. Inconsiderate people…ugg. Typically, I use being secluded in the safety of my car as an excuse to yell back at them, shake my fist…or worse, maybe assert my own dominance on the road.
This time was different. I took deep breaths, wished those poor drivers well, hoped they didn’t have little kids bouncing off the walls inside, and took a closer look at the beauty of the landscape around me. And when I arrived at my destination, I was relaxed and ready to enjoy my visit.
Today, I’m searching the internet for a way to make bumper stickers. I’ll be rich!
Want to read more drive time thoughts? Click over to True Nature, Driving, and New Podcasts! Man, I spend a lot of time on the road.