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Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

Traffic, Road Rage, and the One-finger Wave

Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009, at 11:06 PM

If I had to pick one word to define a major difference between big city and small town life, it would begin with T and end with C (and no it isn't "terrific"). TRAFFIC! You can't go anywhere in the city or the burbs without running into it. There is no such thing as running a simple errand or grabbing something quick from the grocery store. And, it's not just the traffic on the roads. It's in the stores too. Everywhere you look there are people. There are people, right where you need and want to be.

Since living in the big city, I've had a few--what one might call--"mini" breakdowns. It's been nothing worth calling the "white coats" over, but I have wondered if it's normal to feel like your heart is going to pop out of your chest. Hmmmm!? All of this anxiety relates to my daily commute. Ha! I laugh at that word--commute. According to Webster, "commute" means to travel back and forth regularly (as between a suburb and a city). Growing up in McCook, I don't think I could consider my 5 minute jaunt across town a "commute." Of course, I'm sure the farm kids traveling in to town felt a tad bit differently. Regardless, when I first moved to Denver, I thought it was cool when I was able to say, "my commute takes me X number of minutes." Ha...that was then...this is now!

At this point in time, my husband and I seem to spend half of our lives on the road. On a good day, it takes me about 30 minutes to get to work. My husband has it worse because it takes him nearly an hour. Factor that in with a regular 8-hour day--not to mention the fact that it takes me an hour to get ready in the morning (yes, I'm "that" girl)--and that makes for a couple of grumpy people by the time we make it home in the evening. Oh, wait a minute! I said "factor that in with a regular 8-hour day." What I should have said is, "factor that in with a planned 8-hour day" because we never seem to end our workday in just 8 short hours.

Some people handle commuting quite well. I honestly thought I would ease into it and eventually grow to love it. After all, it was a change for me. I lived in Houston for a short time before coming to Colorado, and that was some serious traffic. In a matter of weeks, I learned where (and what) the feeder roads, beltway, and loop were. I also learned the importance of keeping up with traffic. I think I handled everything quite well and actually enjoyed the fast pace. Maybe it was because it was new to me, or maybe it's because I was only there for a short time. I didn't really understand Road Rage until I moved to my current locale.

As a kid we'd come to Colorado for vacations, and I remember my dad complaining about "them Colorado drivers." From my small town perspective--and somewhat sheltered life--I too felt that they were always in a hurry and were driving way too fast. Fast forward several years and you will see that I have morphed into one of "them Colorado drivers." I found that it was either make the transition or have white knuckles everywhere I went. After driving I-70 and I-225 every day, I've found that you better keep up or risk being told that you're #1 . . . oh wait, that's not what they're saying!

The one-finger wave! Uh...if you didn't pick up on it, that's what I was referring to when I said #1. I'm not going to elaborate on what that gesture means as I'm sure you get the gist. Rather, I'd like to think about the one-finger wave Nebraska style. That is, the greeting drivers commonly use when passing one another on Nebraska highways and country roads. I remember riding in the car with my grandpa, and every time we would pass someone on the road he would keep both hands on the steering wheel but extend the index finger of one hand. The driver in the other car, often a farmer, would do the same. So, I'd ask grandpa if he knew the other person and a lot times he'd say, "no!" I just loved the fact that perfect strangers would pass each other and in one single gesture say, "howdy neighbor!" Unfortunately, I don't see much of that in the big city.

So, back to Road Rage! I would be lying if I said that my vocabulary hasn't become more colorful since I've been in the big city. When someone cuts me off or won't let me into a lane, I usually utter the phrase, "God Bless America!" Now, I really don't know why I came up with that, but I figure it is the nicest thing I can say--in a forceful tone--and it makes me feel just a tad bit better.

Over the last several days, I've become increasingly irritable (my husband would willingly attest to this, but he's irritable too). I could blame it on the weather. I could blame it on the fact that there is less light in the sky when I get home in the evening. Who cares!? One thing I know for sure is that I've had it up to my eyeballs with the commute, the traffic, and the countless other "irritable" people on the road. What I wouldn't give to sleep in for that extra 30+ minutes (and no, I'm not going to give up my morning routine for that would surely be a scary sight). What I wouldn't give for a longer--hopefully more relaxing--evening. And oh, what I wouldn't give to go back to that 5 minute jaunt across town!

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Every time we go to Colorado, about the same place on the Interstate my husband hollers, "Hold on, we're gonna get hit"! Just on I-70 at the flyover to I-225 seems to be the magic area.....although the past couple times it's happened at more than one place. Having lived in the Denver Metro area for 33 years and thinking the traffic was "normal" it's weird to go back there and be in a panic!

-- Posted by fred2 on Sat, Oct 24, 2009, at 10:29 PM

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Longing for Home
Brianna Davis
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