I started a new job two weeks ago and now have to drive through the city to get to and from the office. This is a new concept for me as my commute for the past 4 years has been 15 minutes, tops, so a 30+ mile jaunt on Boston’s packed highways was more than a slight deviation. The good news is that I have not gone insane (yet) due to my efforts in distracting myself from noticing that I am wasting away in bumper to bumper traffic. How have I done this? I am glad you asked!
Windows Down, Music Up!
If it’s nice out (recent trends have been terrific), I prefer the windows down. This gets annoying in stop and go traffic, I’ll admit, so sometimes the windows have to go up. However, if there’s some movement on the road I would rather have the air flowing through the windows than the AC. I’m also a fan of (decently) loud music, which brings me to...
I shamelessly rock out in the car without traffic so I figured I might as well go for broke and put on a show. My commute has been an opportunity for me to expand my musical horizons by streaming Pandora, Google Music and Prime Music stations. Some songs are winners, some songs are losers, but it is different from my usual rotation of radio stations playing the same stuff. The key here is the deviation from the norm. Suddenly, I’m not aware of how many songs I’ve listened to because I don’t know every single one...I am just left with the feeling that music can create.
I have a friend who is researching new cars. I’ve been using my time surrounded by other vehicles to do research based on his automotive preferences. How many Crosstreks have I seen? How does it look in person? What color is best? How has it handled that massive series of potholes between exits 30 and 31? You should be aware of your surroundings anyways (never know when you’ll see a guy in a Fusion try to get past an 18 wheeler and get his driver side wheel well rearranged) so this just takes your observations a step further. I’ve noticed a couple i3’s (never saw one on the road before), another FoST(!), plenty of WRX and STIs, a 60s(?) Camaro, Audis galore, an old Celica, Teslas, etc. Nothing special really but I’m keeping my eyes open. The best laugh was a JK Unlimited with the roof and doors removed driven by a guy in a suit. He started reevaluating his decision when huddling as close to the dash as possible while it was raining. Point is, you never know what will show up!
Learn Something! (Edit: Thanks for the reminder 64mali!)
Use the time to fresh up on your Spanish (like that VW commercial). There are plenty of apps you can use, I’m sure, or “tapes” to follow along with. Same goes for “books on tape” (though careful with Peterotica). I’m contemplating this option in preparation for any major trips in my future...gotta learn the local languages!
I’ve seen the same Scion xD every other day on my commute (need to fix that dent, btw). The black FoST has shown up a couple times as well. They are now my commute buddies.
Make the Most of the Manual
Ughhh...a manual transmission in traffic is the worst! Meh. It’s not bad, actually. The gears don’t get confused so I find I can take advantage of lane changes a lot easier. I enjoy areas where traffic opens up to the actual speed limit by leaving it in a lower gear and just winding it out. Puts a little smile on my face. But where can I actually open it up? You’ll know when you...
Look for Patterns
I am still figuring out the intricacies of certain areas but over time you’ll know what lane is the most efficient to bypass a major exit that tends to back up or easiest to make that long sweeping curve that people tend to drift over the lane markers on. I found certain exits I can take that will bring me to a familiar area I can get home from. This may not be faster but the perception is that I’m moving and therefore doing better than the traffic I left. Slowly but surely you can solve the problem that is traffic!
Well...maybe not solve but become somewhat proficient in maneuvering your city’s lanes.
I have a short fuse when it comes to, well, life. I can’t stand inefficiency, ineptitude or perceived asshattedness so I was very concerned about my well-being during my commute. Turns out the commute is relatively good for me because I can force myself to go with the flow. I throw it in a low gear, idle along without touching a pedal, rock out to whatever song I know, look around and think to myself “not bad today.”
Overall, take it easy. If you try to force your way through traffic and carry an aggressive style you will likely blow up a lot easier. Also, you could ignite some nutcase, get in an collision or cause a collision. My first day of work featured a 1 hour complete stop due to a med-evac and the overwhelming concern from the people around me was “I hope everyone is ok.” Nobody wants anything bad to happen, so take it easy. You’ll get where you’re going...
This is how I am currently and plan on surviving traffic during my commute. The easiest way to survive traffic is to avoid it but not everyone can. If you have to do something, do it in a way that is enjoyable to you. Let me know if you have any tips and tricks to make the commute tolerable.