The morning commute, all 10.7 miles of it, takes about eighteen minutes on average; about two-thirds of it is freeway mileage, and since most of the year I'm driving this route in the dark, there are distinct disadvantages to it, though traffic is generally light, which helps. In the afternoon, there is light, but there is also decidedly more traffic, which creates, or perhaps exacerbates, grumbling. On the off-chance that you might wonder what goes on in my head while I'm behind the wheel, here's a recap of yesterday's trip home, which took 23 minutes owing to various stupidities, not all of which were mine.

4:34 pm:
The trip out of the office is largely uphill on a busy four-lane street, which generally requires that I stomp rather heavily on the loud pedal — something Nissan discourages until things have warmed up a bit. With temperatures in the upper 70s today, this didn't take long, but you should see it in the winter. Or maybe you shouldn't.

4:37 pm:
Up the onramp. Traffic is moving at arthritic-snail speeds. A frustrated driver in a Toyota RAV4 exits about 3000 feet before the next exit, and makes it to the service road. It occurs to me that this is the first time I've ever actually seen a RAV4, sold as a sport-utility vehicle, go off-road.

4:39 pm:
Bottleneck ends with no obvious cause. I stay about 5 mph under the speed limit, just in case.

4:41 pm:
Exit left to the second section of freeway. The little trailer tire that had been sitting in the ramp for the last few days has been removed. At the end of the ramp, I head for Ludicrous Speed, and in a metro area of 1.3 million, 72 mph at this time of day is indeed Ludicrous — but I'm not gaining on anyone, so this bunch is evidently happy at 72. In practice, les gendarmes will not get interested until 75, at least until one approaches the Broadway Distention, which features an intricate (and yet unfinished) interchange and a couple of merges. I'm hugging the Jersey barriers to the far left.

4:45 pm:
LEFT LANE CLOSED 1/2 MILE. My exit from the left is a quarter-mile away. Usually things start to stack up here, but no one is dawdling, and I am able to hit the exit at something resembling normal speed.

4:46 pm:
Will I make it through the circle and the subsequent intersection? Short answer: No; everyone inclined to dawdle is doing so on surface streets. Surprisingly, no one runs the red light.

4:51 pm:
One mile in the last five minutes. Heavy traffic is heavy. No one seems to be hitting the meteor crater just before the shopping-center turnoff. (Okay, it's a pothole, but you can't see the bottom of it from any angle that enables you to not hit it.)

4:52 pm:
This is always a guess: turn off here and wait for the lights to cycle, and hope no one runs the red light, or go on to the next intersection, half a mile down, wait for the lights to cycle, and hope no one runs the red light. I opt for the former. I note that it's 4:52 and I should be home by now.

4:54 pm:
Lights cycle.

4:56 pm:
One side street to go. Rather a lot of tree debris is stacked up at one house; a block later, a single forlorn limb lies atop an unkempt yard.

4:57 pm:
Several unkempt yards on my block. Mine, however, is unexpectedly kempt: He Who Mows — I hired him last year after deciding it was too damned much work to do it myself, and called him back last week — had made his first biweekly visit. At nearly $100 a month, he's pricey, but I figure it's worth it, especially with this late start to mowing season. Downside: this runs perilously close to violating my rule about not having either the best or the worst yard on the block, what with my increased attention to weed control. Last week, in fact, the yard got a dousing of Diet Agent Orange, or something. Weirdly, as I opened the door, one of the resident birds started a call-and-response with the home security system, perfectly timed. I should be used to this sort of thing by now.

The Vent

  1 May 2015

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