9.20.2006

Wimpy Commuter

Earlier this week, I had to drive myself and a couple of other
consultants to the suburbs for a meeting. It made sense to drive,
given that a) there were three of us and b) there were no easy public
transit options to this particular location. The traffic wasn't
actually that bad, either, even though the highway we took (hint: it
rhymes with "Boo Thrill") is notorious for its congestion.

And yet, the drive still took a lot out of me. I had to figure out
whether I wanted to drive into work and circle endlessly in search of
a parking space or just bike to work and bike home to grab the car en
route to the burbs. (I went with the latter.) Then, I had to figure
out directions -- thankfully, one of the passengers knew the way,
although I still almost got us lost. While the traffic going wasn't
bad, by the time we headed home, there were enough snarls to force
some alternate routes, which further turned me around and resulted in
left turns from right lanes and vice versa.

Then I had to drop off one of the consultants downtown, after which I
turned right onto a major street that happened to be one-way, and not
the way I was going. The policeman stopped oncoming traffic and waved
me back in the right direction, all while shaking his head wearily --
I took comfort that perhaps I wasn't the only one to pull this
boneheaded maneuver.

We got back to our neck of the woods, and I had to pull over to the
side of a busy street to let out my co-worker, and then circle
endlessly for a parking space, feed the meter with more quarters than
I'd used in several months, and then walk about a third of the
distance I usually walk to and from work just to get back to the
office. I jetted from work abruptly, lest I get a parking ticket --
in fact, my meter had expired, but no maid magically appeared to
record the infraction -- and drove home in traffic much slower than my
normal biking speed. I arrived home more frazzled than usual and not
any earlier than usual.

The moral of the story is that I am an absolute wimp when it comes to
commuting. When I walk, it provides a nice ramping up in the morning
and a nice winding down in the evening. When I bike, it's a nice
journey length: long enough to feel I'm saving time, but short enough
that I'm not out of breath upon arrival. Ah, but when I drive . . .

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