If I wrote this into a novel, people would say it was unrealistic. What’s your worst commuter story?

Have you ever had “one of those days”? Well, the other day I had “one of those” mornings. Have you ever had a day when you just couldn’t get in to work?

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No, it was not the black ice. Yeah, I slipped a bit… but I listened to the news and avoided the roads that were closed or otherwise backed up.

Oh, by the way, that picture shows how people save their parking spaces after they “dig out” They put folding chairs (usually plastic lawn chairs) in the spaces so no one steals their hard-earned spot.

I was actually having an enjoyable ride in— until I got into the city.

City driving is never fun, even on the best day. I’ve run into trash trucks, handicapped busses, pot holes, school busses, double parked cars, and poorly-timed lights— but never at the SAME TIME.

Today I was cruising into the city, doing fine, until I made a right turn into a big pile of poop.  If you have never driven in the outskirts of Philadelphia, imagine rows and rows of houses glued together sprawling down the street on both sides… like one continuous townhome that is only cut apart by side streets. You are on a two-way road that is barely passable in both directions because the plows have mounded snow around the cars that are parked on the side of the streets. (Where are the owners of these cars, anyway? Do they take public transit until the snow thaws or something)

Anyway… Up ahead, on the other side of the road in a trash truck heading toward me.  No problem, right? He’s on the other side of the road.

Enter problem number two

On my side, one car ahead of me, a handicapped bus stops and opens his doors. Again, no biggie. Someone will get on the bus, and then we will start moving again.  Well, he closed the doors, and started moving. A guy comes running down the road, and the bus opens his doors, and the guy jumps on.  Great, right?  He should start moving now.

Ah, no.

The bus sat there for at least five minutes with the door open. Mind you, traffic has now piled up behind me. I can also see traffic piling up behind the trash truck that moves about a foot a minute toward me.

Eventually, the guy jumps off the bus. Good. We should start moving now, right? No. We still sat. Trash truck is still just inching toward me. Eventually, someone goes by me on the sidewalk, pushing a wheelchair.

Now, I have nothing against this person in a wheelchair at all… but did the driver need the wheelchair to get all the way down the street, and have to talk to him before he thought to open the handicapped doors and let down that insanely slow ramp?

The trash truck is still inching toward me. I’m trapped, and I realize that there is not enough room for me and that trash truck between the piles of snow.

Please get that bus moving!

About twenty minutes into this whole escapade, I had to pull up onto the snow bank in order to not get squished, and the bus then started to move.  Whew!

Then I turned down pothole alley.

Let me tell you, if you are tired, nothing wakes you up like a pothole that goes all the way to China… and this guy was having a party because 15 or so of his friends were lined up behind him ready to eat unsuspecting tires.

Okay, great. I’m through that mess. That’s when I hit the miss-timed lights.

Come on!

All this traffic cannot get through a light that is only green for thirty seconds!  Geesh!

Finally, I turn on to The Boulevard. The main road through this part of the city.

Dead stop.

Grrrrr. As soon as I made it to a side street that I knew would bring me to the back of the building where I work, I took it. Hurrah!  Way off in the distance I can see the sparkling water tower and brick walls of my office.

That’s when I hit the school bus.

Now, I don’t know what it was like when you were a kid, but where I grew up, if you were not at the bus stop on time you were toast. Even if the driver saw you running for the bus, they would not stop.

What’s with this sitting in front of a house with a closed door waiting for a kid to come out?

Are you kidding me?

Now, I have hit this before, but the drivers are at least nice enough to put on their yellow lights as a warning, and all the drivers can still pass until the lights turn red. Makes sense, right?  Well, this driver DID have his yellow lights flashing, but he was PARKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  And I am not exaggerating on that.  You know that little dotted line that divides the road? HE WAS STRADDLING IT. And not by accident. That line was dead center between his tires. And we waited… and waited… and the traffic piled up on both sides.

Anything else?

When we start moving, I hit a car double parked, running, with no driver in it right in front of a traffic light— the same traffic light that was getting backed up by the school bus. So I had to wait for the entire light to funnel through before I could get around him (took two lights of waiting).

Great! Home free!  I can see the security fence around my building. I am almost there!

But first, I had to maneuver through what felt like a Super Mario Bros. game.  In the space of one block… Three more double parked cars, and two more “see all the way to China” pot holes.


Can I ask anyone who lives in the city… Why do you have to pull your cars out into the middle of the road before you clean off the snow?  Sorry, I don’t get it. Don’t you see or care that you are stopping traffic?

On the other side of the bridge, where I live, you’d get a ticket for half the offenses I went through this morning.

I guess to put a positive spin on it… There was a lot of black ice. For those of you who do not know what that is, imagine driving, and then suddenly for no apparent reason your car turns into a spinning whirly-wheel of a car. You have absolutely no control and there is not a darn thing you can do about it until you hit something to make you stop. Not fun.

Anyway… All this nonsense FORCED me to go slow. So thank you, God, for getting me here safely today.

And thanks for reading.

No. I will not be putting all of that in a novel to “torture my characters”.  No one would believe it, anyway.

What’s your worst commute story?

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15 responses to “If I wrote this into a novel, people would say it was unrealistic. What’s your worst commuter story?

  1. Do neighbors actually respect those lawn chair “space savers?” Luckily, most of our snow is gone, but there were some early morning icy patches last week when it was melting. Accidents and slow downs nearly doubled the commute time on a couple of days.

    Yep, I could just see you writing this into a story, and the agent and editor would say, “Too unrealistic. All of that couldn’t happen in one trip.” Ha!

  2. Nope. Can’t beat that!

  3. Another silver lining is your made me smile on one of the worst days I’ve ever lived through 🙂 And you are right about the bus leaving us when we were younger . . . natural consequence to not being at your stop on time! But we don’t believe in those for kids anymore, do we? Now it’s child neglect . .. ugh, don’t get me started on that!

    • Ha! I know it’s a different world but I think a lot of the “new ways” of doing things are making kids a lot less self-responsible. They are not going to be prepared when they get out into the job market.

  4. I’m lucky because I’m retired but when I take my kids to the school bus stop, one family is always late getting their kids out of the door and the bus waits. And the traffic waits. You c.a.n.n.o.t. pass the bus nohow, but wait you must. Grrr.
    Glad you didn’t experience a scratch and dent.

  5. There are reasons why I do not work in the city. Getting into the University of Pennsylvania for five years was enough for me, Jennifer. You are braver than I. Yikes! ~Victoria Marie Lees

  6. You should put it in a novel EXACTLY like that, except your character should be racing to stop a time bomb!

  7. Well, I don’t commute, unless it’s upstairs or downstairs, grin, but it sounds like quite the drive! I believe you’re entitled to a relaxing bath, a great book, a drink of your choice…etc, not in any particular order. Black ice I completely get! NO FUN! I’m thankful you’re safe.