Friday, May 01, 2009

My Daily Commute, 5/1/09

Driving to work is always an adventure. I live in North Andover, which is about 40 miles from my workplace in Needham. On a daily basis, my commute can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, although lately I’ve realized that leaving around 8 or 8:15 instead of 7:30 actually gives me less traffic, so that’s a plus. Fridays are usually very light in the mornings, traffic-wise. Today seemed like any other Friday until I got within 5 miles of the exit I take to get to work.

This was one of those great, slow-down-and-look traffic jams, as there was no reason for the hold-up on the southbound side of the highway, the side I was on. No, there was just a trash truck on the northbound side that had apparently lost all of its contents all over the road, and the excessive cleanup crews (a firetruck? Really? I can understand the bulldozers to pick up the trash, but Jesus Christ!) were causing a lot of traffic on the northbound side. Again, there was no reason for any traffic on the southbound side, except to stop and look. Once I passed this mess, I had about 2.5 miles of free-and-clear driving. Once I was within a mile of my exit, traffic was nearly stopped again.

I never found out the reason for this second jam, as I slowly made my way off of the exit and onto Highland Ave in Needham. Normally I get right off the exit and merge into the far left lane to take a left at the next set of lights. Of course, today was not normal on any fronts, so there was traffic on the RAMP, and on Highland Ave leading up to the light. There was a red light at the light up ahead, so I assumed this fine large gentleman in a 94 Mercury Grand Marquis was letting me in front of him to get into the left lane, so I pulled ahead. I thought wrong.

“Nice heart, you fucking fag!” was the response I heard for my offensive merge into the left lane. At least I assume he said nice heart. Now, this probably seems like an odd thing to say to somebody, but let me be clear. I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car for the Timothy P. Roberts and Dana-Farber “Reeling in a Dream Fund,” whose symbol is a letter “T” inside a heart. Immediately I thought of witty things to react with, and my personal favorite was “Drive into a lake, fatty!”

Of course, I never actually said this response, as he drove right by me and ended up going through the green light just fine, but still, I was proud of myself for being so quick on my feet. The more I thought about his comment, the more frustrated and flabbergasted I got. I let out a big sigh and just tried to calm myself down, when I looked into the opposite side of the road. There was a man in his 40s who must have seen my frustration and he laughed at me. His windows were open, and he said over to me, “Nice day, huh?” Keep in mind it’s 50 degrees and cloudy outside, not exactly picture-perfect weather. His simple act of friendliness was much-needed, and was a great rebut to the fat idiot who yelled at me only seconds earlier.

I nodded my head and laughed. “Oh, yeah, just great!” I said, causing the man to return a laugh, before the light changed and I made my left turn. As I drove, I became glad that I didn’t stoop down to the fat idiot in the early-90’s Grand Marquis’ level, because it wouldn’t have mattered to him. I would have made him more angry and bitter, two things he most certainly is feeling at all times if he was willing to yell at somebody’s cancer charity sticker for making a legal, in-offensive lane merge. Instead, somebody made me laugh, and I made him laugh back.

Don’t you just love your daily commute?